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A $1 million commitment to scaling a promising youth entrepreneurship program. $500,000 to fund mentoring for those recently released from prison. A $75,000 grant – one of 10 – awarded for scholarships to a summer science education institute.

These are the kinds of initiatives appealing to new philanthropists – those termed “high and ultra-high net worth donors.”

It’s easy enough to research the “what” of these donors – what they give to. But that’s after the fact. How can we figure out the “why” – and from that, understand how to position our nonprofits in this sphere?

A new study released in late November by The Philanthropy Workshop gives some clues.

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Posted on in Fundraising

A lot has been written about David Rockefeller’s philanthropic legacy in light of his death last week at the age of 101. From support for local community improvement projects to investing in NYC’s major civic institutions, Mr. Rockefeller’s giving totaled an estimated $2 billion over his lifetime.

David Rockefeller worked hard to transmit what a New York Times article characterized as his family’s philosophy of giving – humility, responsibility, and engagement – through various charitable vehicles. Under this philosophy, we owe a common debt to each other, and much is expected of those who receive.

But while Mr. Rockefeller championed appreciation-fueled giving, his philanthropic interests reveal a deeper motivation than simply giving back. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

Why do we self-sacrifice to help others in distress?

The social science term for this is “costly altruism” – doing something for another that comes at a cost to ourselves.

(Like, spending our money to help someone else’s child, not our own.)

At a panel on the Psychology Of Philanthropy at NYU’s Heyman Center last week, cognitive neuroscientist Oriel Feldmanhall weighed in on the importance of the “warm glow” of giving – and how the emotional satisfaction engendered by doing good for others feeds on itself, to produce more and more altruistic behavior.

In other words, getting someone to do good for others – even a small act – can make them feel so pleasant they’ll do more.


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Posted on in Fundraising

The Tin Cup Syndrome – standing by the side of the road looking pitiful, hoping someone will respond.

When fundraising feels like this, no wonder board members (and staff, and friends) shy away!

What would it take to turn it around?

To help our board members (and ourselves, to be honest) to see fundraising as an offering – to the giver?

To see the value we provide, not only to our clients and our communities, but to our donors…and how we help them fulfill their commitment to be the kind of person who leaves the world a better place? 


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Posted on in Fundraising

The numbers are out, and they say: Full speed ahead.

The annual Giving USA report on 2014 contributions has just been released, and it’s clear – we’re back to pre-recession giving.

From a 5.7% increase in individual giving, to a whopping 15.5% increase in bequest donations (powered in part by the $1 billion estate of former Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson), the climate for fundraising – from individuals, foundations, and corporations – is strong.

And while the largest increase was in giving to educational institutions (due to several mega-gifts), donations to other types of nonprofits rose as well, as a result of more run-of-the-mill contributions.

What does this mean for those of us tilling the field on a daily basis?

That the money is out there – as long as we find our natural donor constituency. 


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