In this series, we take a look at the current news impacting the nonprofit sector, specifically fundraising. Our intention is not to be reactive, but to be proactive in our analysis of the news and consider how fundraising and philanthropic efforts can improve outcomes and adapt to meet the times.
This week: Inclusive Philanthropy, Bloomberg Pledges $100 Million To Medical Schools At Four HBCUs, and The COVID-19 Silver Lining: Non-cash & Life Income Charitable Giving Trends for 2020.
Inclusive Philanthropy (Via Stanford Social Innovation Review)
A significant amount of public attention on philanthropy and democracy has concerned how large concentrations of wealth influence public decisions and elections. How can we be equal citizens, people ask, if some voices are valued more than others? If the consequences of this power imbalance result in the United States’ resembling more of an oligarchy than a democracy? These discussions spotlight the political power of the wealthy, rather than what philanthropy is genuinely about: generosity and volunteerism.
Analysis: The late philanthropist Doris Buffett always considered time to be a more valuable gift than money because it leveled the playing field; no one, no matter how wealthy, has more than 24 hours in a day. The purpose of charitable giving is meant to be to give back to your communities rather than using money and power to advance a personal interest. By limiting philanthropic giving to financial contributions, many individuals who want to give back might not be able to make the impact they wished they could.
Last Thursday, businessman and former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg announced that his charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has committed to giving $100 million to medical schools at four historically Black colleges and universities over the next four years. The funds will be used to provide up to $100,000 in scholarships for medical students currently enrolled and receiving financial aid at Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
Analysis: Bloomberg joins the growing list of wealthy individuals that have made contributions to HCBUs this year. Bloomberg's pledge differs from others by being directed to the medical schools to ease the burden of debt placed on Black medical students. Previous donors had only given to the university to be used where the money was needed most. However, the need to create a more inclusive medical field prompted Bloomberg to direct his gift to a specific cause that he cites. Fundraisers must always remember to listen to donors' stories to understand the basis for their philanthropy, and how it can help their mission.
This year has been difficult by any metric. Without question, advanced charitable techniques like planned giving are far from the minds of many. But it can be particularly valuable for donors motivated to give during this unusual time. When there is a clear need, Americans consistently are compelled to give. Indeed, many charities (including community foundations and national donor advised funds) report significant upticks in grant-making by their donors.
Analysis: Historically, a national crisis has prompted Americans to give at a higher rate that in years past despite any economic downturns. However, many donors are finding new ways to give even when an immediate financial gift is not an option. The COVID-19 crisis accelerated many of these trends by increasing the need for many people to give, but limiting their ability to give cash gifts due to the down economy.
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