I thought you would be interested the story, “Testing Donor’s Intent, 350 Years Later” from The Wall Street Journal.I have taken a couple of months off from writing my blog. Some of you have asked about my health, attitude, etc. I assure you all is fine. It took a violation of donor intent, now over 350 years old to awaken my writing about philanthropy again.I find myself a bit frustrated with how philanthropy, fundraising and nonprofits are being characterized and managed today. My pronouncements over a year ago about the threats on the charitable deduction are becoming more real every day. Meanwhile, many nonprofit leaders are surprised that the promises of “it won’t happen” continue to be wiped away.My instinct that fundraisers and nonprofits want to raise money get brushed aside in an argument about why rich people have money and have the right to say where it goes.Now this issue has reared its head in Ipswichip, Massachusetts 350 years later.I have written and spoken about fulfilling donor intent for years. Read the article, think about William Payne and what the best ways to fulfill his intent are. Was his intent to preserve the land or help the school? Did he believe the best way to preserve the schools was to preserve the land? Have the trustees of the land trust operated appropriately? And by the way, who is in charge of watching this? Politically ambitious attorney generals?What would you decide about this matter and more importantly, why?It’s not a matter of what you or any other person would have done if you were William Payne. Even from the grave, it is about what he wanted.That’s why it’s called donor intent.
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!”
Go here to read the full article