As you start reading this blog, understand that I know I am no Steve Jobs. Ask anyone — I was wearing those black mock turtle necks before he was.But his story gives me an opportunity to raise a point.Okay now that I have your attention, I want to talk about thinking.I hear you: Oh, no, Bob is on that “We need Thinking Fundraisers” training again. We get it. We don’t need to think about this again.Yeah, you do.Our country is in a financial crisis.Government support is going away from nonprofits, I just had a client in Tulsa who got a “no, not this year” from the feds. The charitable deduction level for the wealthiest is on the chopping block. Every state is reducing their support and turning to the private sector. Kansas just lost its federal arts funding. Not all of the Farm Bill was funded, leaving hunger agencies looking for money. Missouri cut its support of private colleges by 60 percent last year. State support of public universities has dropped so far one state college calls itself “state sited” rather than “state supported” or even “state assisted.”Blame the Republicans. Blame the President. Blame our Congress. Just blame.But why does it matter? No matter who or what you blame — or even if you don’t — the fact is, we are in trouble.When I was growing up, whenever I complained about something my mom would say (hear an Australian accent to get the full effect), “Robert, what are you going to do about it?” She was always the first to remind me that I had a responsibility. If I didn’t do anything about it, I had no complaining rights.By the way, she inspired the Hartsook Institutes, the only exclusively fundraising academic institution in the world. Another time, I’ll talk about all she inspired. Did you know she inspired the camera in your phone?Kidding, of course but I am trying to keep you on the Steve Jobs track.Even with all this economic difficulty, there is enough money for those causes that someone cares about. Contrary to popular belief, major gift fundraising is actually up.Soon, Hartsook will be releasing a Success Story on the creation of Initiative Fundraising and how it grows safety net institutions. Many look at the model and see it as a public relations gimmick or something they already do. It is neither. It is a way to respect donors as the major investors they are so you can raise the money needed to fulfill your mission.I’m still combing through everything I can about Steve Jobs and his life. I know if I look hard enough, he can inspire me about how to teach nonprofits that they can raise substantial sums of money doing something they didn’t know they needed to do.
Photo credits: National WWI Museum
President and Trustee
The Sunderland Foundation
Recipient of the
2018 GROWING PHILANTHROPY AWARD FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL CAPITAL PHILANTHROPY
Kent Sunderland was presented with the prestigious Growing Philanthropy Award in Kansas City by Hartsook President and CEO
Matthew J. Beem during National WWI Museum and Memorial’s VIP event, Night at the Tower.
He was nominated by Matthew Naylor, Ph.D., President and CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial, and was selected unanimously by Hartsook Institutes and the International Board of Visitors Growing Philanthropy Committee.
Kent was Vice Chairman of Ash Grove Cement prior to its recent sale. As President of The Sunderland Foundation, he has played a significant role in advancing philanthropy with major gifts.
The Growing Philanthropy Award recognizes a distinguished group of individuals and organizations whose efforts increase philanthropy through research, innovation and challenging the status quo. For more information, contact [email protected].