I’m not the first to notice a change in attitudes about people of wealth. Recently, USA Today published a top travel story called “Guilt trip” about luxury travelers toning it down or canceling vacations. The Associated Press identified a “stealth wealth” set that is hiding luxury purchases and shipping expensive items home rather than walking out of stores with them. Recently, I solicited comments from many of my friends regarding an inspirational, nonprofit fundraising article I had written. I wanted to see if they agreed with me that this was the best time in our country’s history to raise money. Well, I received a lot of interesting responses, but what I noticed was a “wealth divide.” From my wealthy friends, it was doom and gloom, “retreat,” and “don’t talk about doing well.” They talked about fear, anxiety, and they worry about the country. At the same time, the vast majority of them are doing fine. Their businesses may be challenged, their investments may be soft, their foundations may have taken a hit, but they are all going to be players in the future. These are the men and women I have relied on for years to be my positive inspirational support and now I am theirs! So what is the issue? The responsibility has shifted. As fundraisers, they need us to show them the way. One wrote me, “I learned in the past few months about how important the attitude of the fundraiser or the CEO is to my attitude about giving.” As fundraisers, we can join the chorus of doom and gloom or sing a different song. Those who know me won’t be surprised to learn I’m choosing the latter. I raise a lot of money as, I hope, a respected professional, but I also regularly give money away. A couple of weeks ago I personally gave away $750k to a couple of organizations. In one case it was with a group of people who gave $250k each to an organization they loved, but had never given to at this level before. The other group has a lot of money, but it is one I care about most. I am not the richest guy in America, and what I found were several others who weren’t either, but they were joining me. They, like me, were ready to stand up for what they believed. Each donor that contributed to this leadership campaign of which I was a part would tell you that they believed in my honesty and enthusiasm. My editor tells me people want to support what I support because they believe. The needs of our nation—whether for basic human needs or education, culture or health care—have not gone away. Why should we? Whether you believe me or not, roughly the same amount of money will be given away this year as last year. Will the causes you care about get the coin or close their doors? Don’t rely solely on my optimism and experience—trust what the research is telling you: It is up to you.
The Most Influential ‘Living Person’ in Philanthropy
Robert F. Hartsook Receives Honorary Doctorate of Business
Plymouth University, United Kingdom
Bob Hartsook was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration by Plymouth University in Plymouth, England. The University described Bob as: “arguably the most influential living person improving the philanthropic donor experience.” Such global affirmation appropriately recognizes Bob and uniquely distinguishes Hartsook as the world’s fundraising counsel.”
Plymouth University honors individuals who have achieved great distinction in their professional lives and who have made contributions to society at large. In recognizing Bob Hartsook’s impressive achievements, the University has highlighted his service to the field of philanthropy, his promotion of academic study and research and his personal commitment to growing philanthropy around the world. Go here to learn more and view videos from this event.
Pictured: Karin Cox, Hartsook Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer; Julian Chaudhuri, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education and Student Experience; Bob Hartsook; Adrian Sargeant, Professor of Fundraising at Plymouth University and the Director of the Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy; Jen Shang, Philanthropic Psychologist and Director of Research at the University of Plymouth Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy; Matthew J. Beem, Hartsook President and CEO.