Unfortunately, as I see it, yes.I asked my friends at Blackbaud if anyone had compared the rate of decrease of discretionary buying by the American public from 2008 to, say, 2010 (let’s keep this most recent financial picture out of it) and compare it to the Giving USA report of decrease in giving?The answer was, not that they were aware.Well, I did.We all have read that Giving USA has revised their numbers. They added in estates, which meant that ’08 really didn’t lose money and we adjusted for IRS studies . . . you get it.But what it says in dollars is that the loss went from $309 billion to $290 billion in that three-year period.That was a three-year loss of 6%. Which isn’t much, considering the national media claimed that the world of nonprofits was practically coming to an end!Wouldn’t you consider giving to be a discretionary “buying” decision?Want to guess how much discretionary buying has gone down from September, 2008 to September, 2010 according to the Gallup report of October 11, 2010?Oh, Bob, you say . . . It is probably the same. Though it could be a bit more . . . giving to my Church matters so I continue to give. . .Well, I could bore you with hundred more of those trite comments I have heard.Discretionary buying went down 40% over this same three year period, September 2008 to September 2010.That’s six times — or 600% — more than giving.If you were one of the smart nonprofits that ignored the wails and whines and “the world is coming to an end” prophesies of the nonprofit media, you raised a lot of money in the last three years.If not, you were too busy shrinking and cutting back to notice donors shopping elsewhere.Let’s see. What other excuses can we come up with for not raising money?Or better yet, I have an idea. Wouldn’t it be a lot more productive to come up with reasons to raise money? If we did, our donors just might buy them.
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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