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: Memphis Philanthropist Helen 'Honey' Scheidt Leaves Legacy As Arts Advocate, The Billionaire Who Wanted To Die Broke Is Now Officially Broke, and In A K-Shaped Recovery, Nonprofits Should Lean on Major Donors.
Memphis Philanthropist Helen 'Honey' Scheidt Leaves Legacy As Arts Advocate (Via Commercial Appeal)
Whether she was helping bring the ancient treasures of Egypt or the music of the Metropolitan Opera to town, whether she was advocating for libraries, museums or colleges, few arts, culture and educational institutions in the Mid-South were untouched by the generosity and passion of Helen “Honey” Scheidt, who died September 11 at the age of 90. Her passing comes less than five months after the death of her husband, former cotton executive Rudi Scheidt. Together, the Scheidts were the city’s true power couple when it came to philanthropy. For more than 60 years they were synonymous with efforts to expand Memphis’ cultural and artistic environment.
Analysis: The Scheidts reinforce the idea that major donors often have interest in a certain area of giving rather than just a specific organization. Her contributions to the art and cultural scene in Memphis was not limited to just one organization. This can serve as a reminder to fundraisers to look at a donor's giving history. Their interests might align with your mission despite having never contributed before.
Charles “Chuck” Feeney, 89, who cofounded airport retailer Duty Free Shoppers with Robert Miller in 1960, amassed billions while living a life of monklike frugality. As a philanthropist, he pioneered the idea of Giving While Living—spending most of your fortune on big, hands-on charity bets instead of funding a foundation upon death. Since you can't take it with you—why not give it all away, have control of where it goes and see the results with your own eyes?
Analysis: Feeney takes a vastly different approach to philanthropy than his peers. While Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and others committed to giving away half their fortunes in their lifetime, Feeney wants to see the change that his money can make with his own eyes and chose to give it all away while still alive. This level of giving obviously creates a high level of risk, but risk is exactly what made his giving so successful. Being able to help where help is needed will create outcomes for communities that otherwise wouldn't have that chance - outcomes that would not be possible without a major donor willing to take risks.
In A K-Shaped Recovery, Nonprofits Should Lean on Major Donors (Via Harvard Business Review)
More than six months into the pandemic, those that provide direct social services are finding themselves overwhelmed by increased demand, because vastly larger numbers of families now need food, shelter, health care, and other forms of basic support. Many other nonprofits, such as performing-arts centers and choral groups, are simply unable to fulfill their missions during the pandemic. These organizations are hibernating, laying off staff, shepherding their cash, and holding their breath until the pandemic is over. Schools and colleges, meanwhile, are whipsawed between the options of opening in person and remotely, with all the obvious and subtle financial, pedagogic, and public health consequences.
Analysis: As nonprofits continue to feel the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the need for major support is being reinforced. More nonprofits are asking donors to help close funding gaps while other methods of income are being shuttered. But annual fund donors won't be able to close a budget deficit. Major gifts will make a bigger impact on the overall financial outlook of the organization both in the short term and long term. By developing a personal relationship with your major donors, it is more likely for them to give again and continue the support for your mission.
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.