Challenging Or Different?

People say the financial environment is difficult and that raising money today is tougher than ever.

Yes, there are challenges.  But there are always challenges.  Raising money never seems easy when we are doing it – only in hindsight does it appear to have been effortless.

Tara Loader Wilkinson, a reporter for the Financial News in London writes about the changing nature of philanthropy for the WSJ.

She suggests that the worldwide embrace of capitalism over the past few decades has created expansive wealth and the practice of philanthropy is becoming more accessible to the masses.  Wilkinson gives us a glimpse of giving patterns from a worldwide perspective but also offers some U.S.-based trends.

For instance, family foundations are being established with (only) tens of thousands of dollars.  And donor-advised funds are gaining popularity among middle class donors.  Just a few years ago, these giving vehicles were utilized by only the super wealthy.

There are real opportunities today to raise new money.  My firm, GGTS, is seeing more campaigns completed successfully with a broader base of major gifts.  Instead of the 98/2 or 95/5 ratios (where 98% of the dollars are given by 2% of the donors), we are now witnessing clients succeed with 90/10 (or lower) ratios.

This, of course, means changes are needed in our major gifts approach.  No longer can we groom the handful of top donors in our gift pyramid and expect campaign success to naturally follow.  We must be more intentional and engaging with a broader band of major gift donors and prospects.

Wilkinson points us in a helpful direction.  If we expand our vision and engage those emerging donors who are gaining an interest in philanthropy, we might find that our work isn’t really more challenging, it’s just different.


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