The other night I heard Jim Cramer, the TV financial analyst with the pronounced ADD affliction, suggest that the U.S. economic recovery isn’t as authentic as we might hope. Yes, the stock market has enjoyed a couple years’ worth of bull-market fun (although last week saw a sizeable sell off). But, Mr. Cramer asked a simple question regarding our recovery: “Where are the cranes? Show me the cranes,” he said, “and then I’ll begin believing our recovery has a solid foundation.” To Jim’s way of thinking, cranes represent large-scale public and private investment in construction and infrastructure. Cranes mean great paying jobs of all types. And as Jim looks across the U.S. landscape, he doesn’t see enough cranes to believe that the economic recovery will last.
So, here is the question for us in advancement. Many institutions (perhaps yours) have enjoyed increased gift income totals over the last 2-3 years. Many institutions have enjoyed increased donor totals as well. But are these advances authentic? Are these increases the result of well planned and executed strategies, or the result of the surging tide of a bull stock market lifting all boats?
Where are your cranes? What programs have you been building that will ensure your advances will last? And what will you need to build in the next months and years to continue your increases, regardless of what the stock market does?
Advancement programs with cranes build the annual, major, and planned giving programs that raise money and attract new donors during good and bad economic times. Advancement programs that don’t build infrastructure are left to receive gifts and attract donors only at the whim of a strong stock market. You are either building the infrastructure for your success or waiting nervously for the “recovery” to end.