Tag Archives: Donors

Think Before You Endow

I was recently asked at a public forum why I don’t like endowments. I answered: “It’s not so much that I don’t like endowments. It’s that nonprofits and their donors like endowments too much.”

Endowments have become the default destination for major gifts and bequests. If someone dies and leaves an organization a lot of money, the odds are good that the bequest will come with instructions to create an endowment in the name of the deceased. If a nonprofit launches a major campaign, there is inevitably a significant endowment component. As I’ve said before, endowments feel good. Endowments connote a certain sense of immortality. And endowments seem like a prudent investment. But do endowments, paying out 4% or so of their assets a year, have all that much impact? Or are there better ways to direct the donors’ generosity? Continue reading

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Nothing To Be Afraid Of

I became much more comfortable with public speaking when I realized that the audience was rooting for me.

Think about it. Someone stands up to address a group. It may be professional conference or a Rotary Club or a high school graduation. The people in the audience take a deep breath and say to themselves, “I sure hope this speaker is decent. Funny. Interesting. Worth my time!” They want the presenter to be good, because the alternative is too painful. They dread the dull and nervous speaker. Continue reading

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Free Pass

Do nonprofits give their donors a little too much credit?

I’m not asking if nonprofits give their donors too much recognition. It’s fine to carve donors’ names into bricks, put their names on theater seats, or affix their names onto laboratory buildings. It’s great to honor them at gala dinners and list them in annual reports. I support all of that. Donors deserve the attention, and to provide it is wise stewardship on the part of nonprofits.

What I’m asking is whether nonprofits defer too much to donors in discussing how their gifts should be used.

Here’s what I mean: Continue reading

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