Philanthropy: The Moment to Step Up Has Come! Make the case for more resources.

14 04 2011

Our moment has come!  Philanthropy has an opportunity to significantly impact our institutional missions like never before.  See if one of these scenarios fits your organization:

1)      Education: Tuition at record high or already at high end of the marketplace.

2)      Healthcare: Legislation, insurance, etc. has or threatens to reduce any operating surplus.

3)      Museums: Decreased attendance, limited ability to increase admission costs, etc.

4)      Social Services: Cuts to federal and state funding is looming and will limit programs.

Combine your individual scenario with cuts to stimulus and most organizations have a budget issue looming.  What is the response by many organizations to this scenario? You guessed it! Budget cuts across the board, including the development programs.  We should make the case for what we can do for our organizations.

Articles in national publications, including the Chronicles of Philanthropy and Higher Education, all predict significant challenges among our organizations to maintain outside funding.  So for argument’s sake look at the chart, most organizations have limited ability to impact their operating revenue.  How many new students, patients, or attendees can one actually add? What we can impact is our operating surplus or endowment income and our philanthropic support – often at rates of 10-15 cents on the dollar. Be prepared to defend your budget and produce return.

Many organizations will be revisiting budgets.  Do you know:

1)      Your overall cost to raise a dollar?

2)      Return on Investment (ROI) of individual programs?

3)      Potential gifts in your pipeline (and their likelihood)?

4)      What could you do with more travel dollars? Direct mail? Another major gifts officer?

5)      Ways you can demonstrate that you have already cut the proverbial fat from your programs?

Use this year to demonstrate your ability to transform your organization.  Show how your 10% can become 20% or your 20% can become 30%, and so on. Carpe Diem!

– Mark

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