The Return of the (King) Major Gift: Big Gifts Are Back!

20 04 2011

Please forgive the shout out to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Giving is back and maybe better than ever or so it seems. Several news outlets or non-profits have announced significant gifts suggesting that big gifts are on the horizon. Judge for yourself:

  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported 56 gifts of $20 million or more in 2010.  So far in 2011, the Chronicle has reported 22 gifts of $20 million or more.  At least 7 of these gifts were for more than $100 million.
  • Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund reported a record amount of first-quarter contributions and grants to nonprofits this year. Contributions were up 25% over the first quarter of 2010, to $269 million, and first-quarter grants to nonprofits recommended by donors reached $293 million, up 8%. The highest in any first quarter of Gift Fund’s 20 years of existence.
  • A Dartmouth board member committed $15 million for endowed faculty support.
  • A San Diego philanthropist pledged $15 million to the San Diego Zoo.

Beware, these gifts are not limited to just US philanthropists.  International giving is rising and will continue to rise as Europe and elsewhere around the world embraces philanthropy.

  • An Indian industrialist announced a pledge of $340 million to his charitable foundation.
  • A report in the Chronicle of Philanthropy also indicated more interest by high net-worth individuals in Asia who are seeking help in giving to charities. The same report also indicated several large funds have been established.

The Great Recession may have lasting impact on some of your prospects, but clearly not all.  Fundraisers should be reviewing their prospect lists and consider the following:

1)      Re-prioritize donors based on the current economic environment (seek advice from financial experts who may know more about your prospect’s industry). Some prospects lost a fortune, but others made one!

2)      Ask permission to re-open conversations with prospects who said “not now” in 2008, 2009, or even 2010. Confidence is growing.

3)      Pay close attention to those who are increasing their giving to you and others, as well as those who are making first time gifts.

Be prepared. Competition will be fierce for those gifts. 

–          Mark

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