August 30, 2019 § Leave a comment
We are all fundraisers
August is Black Philanthropy Month! Unfortunately, I only learned this at the end of the month, but I am delighted to amplify the message and be an ally (especially in future years). The August newsletter of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University includes an article by Valaida Fullwood, one of the architects of Black Philanthropy Month. In it, she artfully connects this years observation with the 400 year anniversary of the first documented African slaves to arrive on American shores. For more information about this, please see the brilliant New York Times 1619 project.
Eddie and Sylvia Brown were featured in the August Chronicle of Philanthropy as leading Black philanthropists. They very generously share their story as an example and inspiration to other Black philanthropists, and philanthropist in general.
This profile, and an interview with Dwayne Ashley, a Black fundraising professional who founded his own consulting firm, are great stories for Black Philanthropy Month, but it’s not clear that the Chronicle has made the connection. Like me, perhaps they will amplify this more next year.
Well, Nonprofit AF has done it again. A scathing piece on overhead fundraising, which, they argue, we need to stop talking about AT ONCE! (Quick! Don’t think of an elephant!). It’s a paradoxical situation (my favorite – really) because as nonprofit professionals we need to address it, and ignore it at the same time. They are not wrong. It IS really terrible that the general public is counselled to give only to organizations where most of the money goes to programs and services. How do people think those programs and services get administered!? Who keeps the records? Who stewards the donors? Who makes sure the donor intent is being honored? The hard-working folks who are considerd “overhead,” that’s who. I guess we need to be prepared to talk about overhead when the question rears it’s ugly head, and then keep the focus on the wonderful work our organizations do the rest of the time.
Another from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the cover article (subscription needed) is about the industry-wide dissatisfaction of front line fundraisers. According the the article, 51% of fundraisers say they will leave their current job within two years. I’ve been a professional fundraiser (albeit not on the front line) for 25 years, and I’ve always known the tenure of major gift officers to be about two to two-and-a-half years. That has long been the average, as I understand it. So while this is nothing new, what I appreciated about this article is the plain way it dived into all of the reasons why this may be: no culture of philanthropy; unrealistic goals; no resources; toxic work environment; low salaries; no professional development, and no career advancement possibilities. It gives me hope to see these issues stated plainly out in the open. I have a couple of gripes, though: 1) It speaks of millennials as if they are young up-and-comers in their twenties, new to the field and the world of work in general. Millennials are in their thirties and forties, full grown adults with families, and mortgages. 2) It assumes that only front line fundraisers can call themselves “fundraisers.” I take issue with this. Those on the front line could not do their jobs without those on the back end, identifying the prospective donors, maintaining the database, answering phones, doing the gift entry, running reports, etc. They may be the stars of the show, but those of us moving the sets around and running the lights, we’re all invested in raising lots of money and ensuring the gift officers’ success.
Those of us in the fundraising, development, advancement, whatever you want to call it…
We Are All Fundraisers
February 20, 2019 § Leave a comment
In honor of Black History Month, I thought I would post here about some resources and articles I have found recently about Black philanthropy. I have noticed some increased visibility in the profession, and I will amplify it here.
Morehouse College, the historically Black men’s college in Atlanta, received one of the largest gifts in its history last month. Philanthropist and entrepreneur, Robert F. Smith.
At the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Perdue University Indiana, the Mays Family Institute of Diverse Philanthropy provides training for fundraising and philanthropy in “diverse” communities. While this is inclusive of everything from different ethnicities to the queer community, Black philanthropy features prominently in the curriculum. This month, the website features a couple of videos by one of its faculty members, Tyrone Freeman, about the traditions of Black philanthropy.
Apparently, it’s going on in Indiana! (Who knew?) The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) is hosting a Conference on Diverse Philanthropy and Leadership in Indianapolis this April.
From the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an opinion piece by Michele Norris of NPR and Sean Gibbons the Communications Network, talks about how nonprofits and foundations unwittingly perpetuate racism, and offer some possible solutions of how to stop in the latest issue of Change Agent, the journal of the Communications Network.
In doing a little research on Black philanthropy for this post, I came across this resource that was new to me: Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), “a philanthropic partnership for Black communities.” On their website there are articles, information about upcoming events, and resources.
While this is an old piece, it was the latest list I could find of top philanthropist of color from Inside Philanthropy in 2016. I suspect many on this list would still be there in 2019, but I am curious to know how the list may have changed.
Happy Black History Month!
February 3, 2019 § Leave a comment
Great news! I’m back. Looking back at the last time I posted on this blog, it was right around the same time my job at Bryn Mawr College changed, so that explains a lot. It was also not long after we took our current campaign public, and, well, not to make excuses, but the truth is I have been putting my energies elsewhere. I miss writing, so I resolved this year to put a little more time here, if only to write about what I am reading.
More great news! The outlook is rosy for philanthropy broadly, according to the latest Philanthropy Outlook from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Marts & Lundy.
Both, it turns out, have their strenghts, and can be supportive of one another. This article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy (subscritption required) gives some useful pointers to fundraisers who are more introvert than extrovert, and also suggests team work, playing to individual strengths for overall organizational success.
The always astute Helen Brown writes about the importance of knowing your donors and makes a strong case for always including your prospect researcher at the strategy table. Do you really know your donors and the source of their wealth? By accepting large donations, are you putting your institution at risk of getting entangled with a donor’s scandal? More importantly, do you have a gift acceptance policy, and do you follow it?
From Nonprofit AF, some great food for thought just in time for Black History Month. This post about treating “funder fragility” like white fragility invites funders to examine and challenge the power dynamic between themselves and the organizations they support.
Another from Nonprofit AF gave me pause and made me think. This post argues that organizations should NOT solicit their employees, and lays out some pretty persuasive arguments. Every fiber of my being resists this as it goes against everything I have learned throughout my career. Fundraising is a profession that is vastly misunderstood and undervalued, and many professionals already feel a certain lack of self-esteem (how many times have you heard someone say “I’m just a fundraiser,” or worse, heard it said about someone else…”she’s just a fundraiser.”). It doesn’t help that I have worked for an organization that, at holiday time, invites its employees to make charitable contributions to a handful of community organizations, excluding the one that they work for! Needless to say the effort to establish a culture of philanthropy (essential for philanthropic success) is challenged there. Nevertheless, this post gave me something to think about.
Finally, a post from LinkedIn about alumni engagement caught my interest, making a strong argument for human capital campaigns, in addition to fundraising campaigns. This topic is right up my alley, in that alumnae engagement has become the focus of my work. The main point of the article is fundraising, as it is widely known that volunteers are more likely to also be generous donors. What the article doesn’t address, however, is succession planning and readiness of volunteers. To ensure that important donors are successful and have good experiences in their roles it benefits organizations to be forward-thinking in forging relationships and building a deep bench of candidates for key volunteer roles so that you have people who are prepared, ready and wanting to step into important leadership roles. A human capital campaign in the short-term might be able to address some of the needs for long-term succession planning.
Please share! Your thoughts, or other philanthropic readings of note!
February 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
Philanthropy Trends: The more things change, the more they stay the same
In the readings that I have focused on this past month, what I have been seeing is new trends in philanthropy, and yet more of the same.
Following on last month’s analysis of mega-gifts and increased philanthropy, there have already been numerous announcements in 2014 of huge gifts. This includes Harvard’s largest gift from a single donor, Ken Griffin gave the University $150 million, announced on February 19. Since the beginning of the year there have been many gifts of $50 million or more. You can receive weekly news alerts for these gifts by subscribing to NOZA.
Additionally, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported in February that in 2013 there was a “surge in giving” from America’s wealthiest, including notable gifts like Mark Zuckerberg’s $1 billion (with a B) to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, $750 million from Texas oil tycoon George Mitchell to his family foundation in support of sustainability, and $500 million from Phil Knight to support cancer research at Oregon Health & Science University.
Is the mega gift actually back? This article from Forbes says that it will not be long for this world, according to a new survey of young beneficiaries.
According to Chronicle of Philanthropy, gifts to colleges and universities are trending upwards, with a ten percent increase over 2012. Alums are giving larger gifts, though the number of individual donors is trending down. Personally, I’d like to see what we in the business call higher participation levels. Everybody: give to your alma mater! It’s important.
This article from Spear’s (a magazine about wealth management), supports transparent philanthropy. That is, it opposes anonymous giving. I found this to be a refreshing piece in the way it shines a light on the complications and administrative burdens to a charitable organization that are required by anonymous gifts. Though the article doesn’t focus on this, I do support non-anonymous giving if only for the fact that standing as an example to others in the community and may encourage others to be more philanthropic.
More from the Chron of Phil on philanthropy trends from the One Percent: Some are criticising the signers of The Giving Pledge for not giving towards the world’s most urgent problems. Donors gave more in 2013, but some say that many are joining more for public relations purposes, and some sign but are not giving to capacity right away, making their philanthropic plans for later in life. Defenders of The Pledge say that it influences more effective giving, and encourages philanthropy in general. Additionally, there is a focus on recruiting international donors.
Talking of which…
USA! We’re Number One!
This is particularly striking given that the U.S. is the source of the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
Spear’s has some interesting analysis on the results of the study, too.
This month in “Duh!”
So, about that up tic in philanthropic gifts? Yes, it does signal economic recovery, I suppose, but also, it requires trained professionals and strong, positive organizational culture. While the focus is on health care, two new studies by the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy conclude that there is a direct correlation between investing in fundraising professionals and increasing fundraising revenue. You can read about it in the Chronicle of Philanthropy (subscription required).
Local News – Philadelphia
News near and dear to my heart, Kim Cassidy was confirmed president of Bryn Mawr College. Anassa Kata!
Villanova class does good through documentaries – Students at Villanova are learning how to make documentary films that tell the story of local charitable organizations. Doing good.
Cool, Random, and Noteworthy:
Pope’s Harley goes for $327,000 at charity auction – That’s right, the Pope had a Harley Davidson, and the proceeds of its sale went to support a soup kitchen in Rome. This Pope is super bad. Like, totally sick. Just saying.
This could fit into the local category too: Local fundraising consultant Pamela Grow wrote a very nice piece on her blog about what motivates people to give: It’s personal. Amen, sister.
I enjoyed this piece from the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) by Fay Twersky, the director of the Effective Philanthropy Group at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She argues against “strategic philanthropy”, and advocates for more risk, and less certainty in philanthropy. She gently and subtly presses for less focus on outcomes and metrics and more creativity, innovation, and learning from beneficiaries. How very Silicon Valley.
In a similar vein, and also from SSIR, Phill Buchanan from the Center for Effective Philanthropy writes about Five Myths that Perpetuate Poor Philanthropic Strategy.
What are you reading?