This was not the headline of the Chronicle of Philanthropy or the news release issued by the group announcing the study. Their headline was along the lines of, “Two thirds of Americans to give less or the same in 2010.” If you read their articles, they say that 53% of Americans were going to give the same, and 11% were going to give less. Therefore, 36% were going to give more.Did you hear that? 36% WERE GOING TO GIVE MORE IN 2010!Which nonprofit anticipated 36% of their donor base was going to give more this year?I say again, “Huh?” The real headline is the one I started with. (By the way, I’ll give credit where it’s due: Philanthropy Journal’s headline was closer to the report.)I’m certain every one of the over three hundred clients we represent like to hear that 89% of their donors would give the same or more. That would be some pretty good news!I had not heard of Fenton Communications prior to this survey release. I have contacted them to talk about this survey, but they have not returned my call. I have gone to their website and they look like a reputable company, but they clearly don’t understand the fundraising and philanthropy sector. If they had reported that 89% of the American public either support President Obama or will support him more, it would be incredible.One of the other conclusions of this study was that older Americans are more conservative about giving. Really? It has always been that way. It would have been news if they weren’t more conservative.The fact that only 11% are going to decrease giving is the story. The robust love of America has been highlighted by this study and the expression of this love is philanthropy.I apologize if I seem to be beating up on the Fenton Group. I am not. I am glad that there is more research. The Chronicle released a study that 50 large charities saw an increase in giving of 31%. While a decline in individual giving in 2009 was seen by The Center for Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, it now projects that will be erased, with more giving in 2010.Last year, millions of dollars were lost by fundraisers in America because they bought this crap about nobody giving.They believed the glass was 89% empty. We didn’t.
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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