Wednesday, 20 November 2013

When does a gift (or a giver) become major?

As followers of this blog will know, I believe that donors give blood and body parts, whilst people give money to charities so should be shown some respect and called, givers, whatever the value of their gift.

We had a particularly interesting meeting at the Institute of Fundraising Consultants Group AGM when Theresa Lloyd talked about philanthropic motivations from the perspective of seriously wealthy UK givers, Eddy Hogg talked about £1m givers from a global perspective and Martin Kaufman talked about what value consultants add to the whole major gift process from a uniquely personal perspective. What all three emphasised is how well universities do at major gift fundraising and that there are lessons for everyone looking at those experiences.

We also discussed, at some length, at what level of gift someone is considered a "major giver?" Some reckoned it's £10,000 or even £25,000 whilst others suggested that £5 per month over 15 years gift aided (£1125) might be considered a possible! My own view, confirmed by published research, is that anybody who can write you a cheque for £1000 can, if so motivated, put an extra 0 on the end. So whilst you may not treat your £1000 givers as major givers you would be foolish not to treat them as major gift prospects! Especially when you add in the possibility of a legacy. Remember the average residiary charitable legacy gift is more than £50,000 and even the average specific legacy gift is approaching £5,000

But what do think?

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The art or science of Philanthropy?

Lots going on in the field of Philanthropy it seems. There's a month of philanthropy events at Charterhouse I went along on Monday and was treated to a very interesting historical perspective. I'd suggest it's worth getting along to one if you can.

Then there is the new book out by Beth Breeze and Theresa Lloyd which is an excellent follow-up on Theresa's original "Why Rich People Give" ten years ago. It revisits 40 of them and adds another 40 "newer" philanthropists. Interesting isn't it that philanthropy is often seen as the preserve of the rich and yet it is the poorest 10% of the population in the UK who give the most as a percentage of their income?

What's more, good old Wikipedia reminds us that, "Philanthropy etymologically means "love of humanity" in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, and enhancing "what it is to be human" on both the benefactors' (by identifying and exercising their values in giving and volunteering) and beneficiaries' (by benefiting) parts" In other words, anyone can be a philanthropist! Dawkins reckons we have to teach altruism because it isn't in our Genes, whilst Darwin considered that we actually are very altruistic animals. Economists have a word or three to say about it too, but then they have something to say about most things, just a shame they can never agree. By the way, Theresa, Eddy Hogg and Martin Kaufman are all talking at the Institute of Fundraising Consultants Group meeting on 19th November so if you fancy coming along you can book here.

My own research is beginning to show that what Scott Fitzgerald and Hemmingway were (wrongly) reputed to have argued:
"The Rich are different to us" "Yes, they've got more money" is in fact pretty spot on. Whether people are giving £5 or £10 pounds a month to their favourite causes, or a £1 million a year, they are largely coming from the same place.

For fundraisers the key is to understand where each of their givers and prospects are coming from in order to make the most appropriate, timely, well-informed and relevant ask. Simply when you spell it out but probably Alchemy rather than Chemistry. Or is it?