While there continues to be some headline drama about 2009 Giving, the reality is, it was a good year . . . if you focused on individuals, if you had diversified your funding base, if you were persistent and tenacious, if you worked hard, if you could articulate your mission and present accountability for what you did with the resources you were in trusted with.To bore you once again with Bob folklore, go back more than 35 years to when I started in fundraising as a fulltime part of my job. Those who know me know that ego has never been a problem for me, so I took the fundraising job on like I knew what I was doing. I did what virtually every fundraiser does who starts with a general portfolio, I solicited corporations and foundation. In fact, I submitted 50 requests and confidently waited for the money to roll in. What rolled in was a rejection, and another rejection. In 6 months we had accounted for one gift and 49 rejections. In case you didn’t know it, I don’t do well with rejection.But on that day, the Giving USA Report was on top of my mail, with a bold colorful chart of who gives money away.Individuals 79%Foundations 9%Corporate 5%Bequests 7%As we say in the South, “Mama didn’t raise no fool.”As a lawyer, I knew that individuals had to be the donors in bequests. So 86% of all giving was being away during life or at death by individuals. And I had been toiling away on 14% of the marketplace.On that day I changed my view of giving and who gives. Now decades later, thousands of successful clients, and a “boat load” of stories, and nonprofits doing their best to meet the needs of their mission, IT IS THE INDIVIDUAL WHO MADE ALL THIS HAPPEN. (By the way I soon learned who ran foundations and corporations. You got it: INDIVIDUALS.)Now the number is 88% giving from Individuals and individual-influenced funds (family foundations and donor advised funds). How could this be more vivid? Yet many of my friends at the media of record in nonprofits write headlines that mislead the average fundraiser who is looking for guidance. Instead of headlines that call for nonprofits to diversify, focus on individual donors, and realize that giving has only been slightly affected during the Great Recession, they use words like “plunge,” “dive,” and “sink.” All are unnecessary and overly dramatic reflections on what happened and what is happening.All account, regardless of the 2009 study report, for an upswing in giving in 2010. I am glad there are naysayers. I am glad there are fundraisers who want to believe this doom and gloom stuff. It just leaves more for my clients and the nonprofits we serve.Sorry to be greedy, but they are the ones leaving money on the table. Someone will pick it up—it might as well be our clients.——Oh, by the way, I just learned that the President has in his 2011 budget the reduction of charitable deductions for higher income individuals. This proposal to beat up on the rich has been around for a year. The Center on Philanthropy did a study that indicated this would cost philanthropy over $4 billion dollars.If you want to get mad—this is something to get mad about. Many nonprofits are having trouble, so let’s cut through tax policy $4 billion more.Does this make any sense?
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