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: Honoring A Mother’s Legacy, $2 Million Gift to Establish the DePeters Family Center for Innovation and Teaching Excellence at St. John Fisher College, and The Best Philanthropy Takes The Biggest Risks.
Through a major gift to the College of Education (COE), John Steele established the Shirley Luhn Steele Faculty Support Endowed Fund in honor of his mother’s continuous efforts to further her own education for the benefit of her students. The gift is the first of its kind at Butler to specifically support faculty in the COE. The fund will support faculty research, leadership development, scholarly engagement opportunities, and other specialized continuing education with a particular focus on supporting faculty in the area of special education and learning disabilities. The $125,000 gift will be matched over the next several years at a 1:1 ratio by John Steele’s employer, Eli Lilly and Company, doubling the impact of the gift.
Analysis: This story brings a couple of surprising takeaways. Number one: major gifts in higher education don't have to come from alumni. The son of an employee of the school felt that his mother's legacy was best suited for where she worked, and this inspired a gift rather than limiting the prospect pool to only alums. The second takeaway is the employee matching. Typically, employee matching is something associated with annual fund donors in smaller amounts. But corporate philanthropy can extend into matching major gifts as well.
St. John Fisher College announced the creation of the DePeters Family Center for Innovation and Teaching Excellence thanks to a $1 million gift from Jack ’73 and Donna DePeters. Jack retired from Wegmans Food Markets after 52 accomplished years of service to the food company, and in honor of his retirement, Wegmans matched the $1 million gift in December 2019.
Analysis: This is just another example of employee matching for a major gift. It is crucial to make sure we are listening to our donor's stories, and you might gain further insight into their motivations for giving. They might work for a particularly philanthropic organization that is willing to match a major gift. But you'll never know unless you make that ask.
The Best Philanthropy Takes The Biggest Risks (Via Fast Company)
Power—whether political, financial or “super”—is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands; that much we know. But when we talk about great responsibility, this is not only about people using their resources for good, but also efficiently. For the high net-worth community specifically, money in itself is not a superpower. It is a tool that must be used carefully, with the sharing of wealth far more powerful when done strategically.
Analysis: It is important that our donors do not see giving as an "investment". Obviously there are overlaps: doing research, understanding what the gift will be applied to within the organization, and more. But How many times have donors given less because they didn't have as much at stake by taking a "safe" approach to giving? Our donors need to be able to see the value in maximizing their contributions and seeing a "return on their investment" by the impact their gift has on the organization, and the communities it serves.
Have a fundraising story you would like to share? Let us know how you've seen frontline fundraisers rise to the challenge and make an impact in their community.