I have now read cover to cover the Giving USA report which was recently published. I am so glad there is an historic estimate about what goes on in fundraising each year. This research changed my career. When I started raising money, like most of us do in the beginning, I went to foundations and corporations. Back then, they represented about 12% of giving; today, about 16%. To my surprise and amazement, I didn’t raise much out of that highly sought-after pool of funds. I remember a pie chart on the front page of the NonProfit Times that showed that 75% of funding comes from individual donors and 7% or 8% comes from estates. I had gone to law school, so I knew that it was individuals who died that left estates. That meant that most of the money was coming from individuals, living or dead!That pie chart changed my life and the lives of every organization I have ever worked for or with because I have focused my 39-year career on giving by individuals. Over the years, the significant growths in funding is with community foundations and private family foundations, which are generally (care to guess?) individuals giving. Giving USA estimates, why shouldn’t I? I estimate that half the gifts from foundations are individuals or family decisions. That raises individual giving to almost 90% of all giving.Wow. My point in this is that the patterns of giving have really not changed. Little in this research can lead to increasing philanthropy, but that is not the researcher’s responsibility. History has its place, but it really only accurately predicts the past.Pick up the 1980, 1985, 1990 issue of the Giving USA report, or the 1997, 2007, or for that matter the current issue. The facts as reported are the same as before. Individuals are the givers and they are still giving. You know, the world is full of nonprofits dedicated to philanthropy. Hundreds of academic nonprofit management programs support philanthropy. Few talk about the need to increase philanthropy. But one researcher seems to be interested in developing ways to increase philanthropy. Interestingly enough, this researcher and I have one thing in common: Hartsook. I’m not referring to my name. I’m talking about an attitude, a view, an approach and most of all a goal to refuse to be satisfied with the results that Giving USA reports each year. There’s clearly not enough funding to go around.Adrian Sargeant, the Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at Indiana University, has made several moves to change fundraising education to help practitioners adopt skills that will increase the funds they raise for their organizations. (Learn more about this in Todd Cohen’s five-part blog in Philanthropy Journal that discusses these changes at http://philanthropyjournal.blogspot.com/2009/08/fundraising-part-5-time-always-ripe-to.html).Look at the United Kingdom standards for licensure that Sargeant developed. Look at the only undergraduate nonprofit management curriculum change. Watch for the soon-to-be-announced Sargeant diploma program using his knowledge-based curriculum.Add to that the $100 million effort championed by your writer to add knowledge and research-based curriculum on 40 university campuses throughout the world. The Hartsook Institutes on Fundraising will bring 100,000 practitioners to this way of expansion-thinking in the next 10 years.Many are content to watch the pieces of that pie chart shift slightly year after year. Not us. We’ve set our sights on a bigger pie.
Will You Be There When John Shamberg Calls?
A big part of fundraising is showing up and being available. I learned this lesson on a very memorable New Year’s Eve, a very long time ago.
As an eager young fundraiser working for Washburn University, I didn’t know that it was unusual still to be at work in the evening of December 31st. But, there I was.
Earlier that year, a graduate of Washburn University School of Law told me he was going to give a gift of land to his synagogue, a private K-12 school and Washburn. John Shamberg, who has since passed away, made millions of dollars for institutions all over the world, and he wanted to give a significant gift to organizations he valued. His 40 acres of land on the outskirts of Kansas City were valued at $450,000, and his intention was to give $150,000 each to three organizations.
He’d left the task to the last day of the year, but now he was ready to make it happen.
He called the synagogue. No answer.
He called the K-12 school. No answer.
Then, he called Washburn and got me.
“Bob,” he said, “you just won the jackpot!”
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