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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

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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Posted on in Fundraising

For the last several decades, Americans have consistently given an average of 3% of their income to charity.

Year-in, year-out, no matter how bullish or dismal the economy, no matter how clever the fundraising gimmick (including publicly cascading ice cubes), the total ratio of giving to income has remained roughly the same.

But according to a recent deep-dive analysis by the Chronicle of Philanthropy into the giving patterns of taxpayers who itemize their deductions (about 80% of taxpayers), that average belies a critical difference in giving between rich and poor: while the rich give more money overall, the poor reach deeper into their pockets to make a difference.

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Posted on in Fundraising

Whose responsibility is it, for collective well-being?

How someone answers that primary question of philanthropy is often deeply tied to social, political and personal values.  Less about money, more about cultural traditions.

In Sunday’s New York Times, an article exploring the growing Hispanic-American philanthropic presence observed that “Historically, Latin America has leaned on the state and the church for charity.”  Having a private charity take on what was essentially considered a government function, was seen as a sign of distrust of the government, a statement of disloyalty.

Making the need for donor education – especially for those hailing from cultures without a strong nonprofit tradition – critically important.

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Posted on in Fundraising

It’s spreadsheet time. Time for reviewing appeal returns, seeing who showed up for the first time, who gave more, and who disappeared.

Who’s doing that eyeballing?

Who’s engaged in letting your donors know how much their gift, their very presence, makes possible for you? And when?

How wide is that circle of thank you?

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