Monday, October 6, 2008

Dollars to Dollops, Din to Discipline

Through the din of recent events comes a bright note worth cheering about and telling donors about. Who among us isn’t a little bit guilty of looking for our benefits however they may come? On page 303 of the 451-page bailout bill signed last Friday by President Bush was a two-year extension of the IRA Rollover provision. See “(3) TREATMENT OF CONTRIBUTIONS TO ELIGIBLE RETIREMENT PLANS.” The full text of the Senate bill can be found here.

And speaking of the din, by all measures we are now indeed striding forward into a recession. Take heart. In such times, best practices become our future foundation for survival and success.

We encourage everyone to stick to a discipline of connecting well with donors and prospects to see you through. In forty years of giving data collected by Giving USA through multiple recessions and economic slowdowns, giving has always trended up. Hard to believe? According to the latest issue of Spotlight, the Giving USA newsletter, during the years from 1967 to 2007 -- which saw some big challenges -- “Total giving has increased in current dollars in every year but one....” (A tax law change in 1986 prompted people to “give early,” and skewed the pattern for 1987.) “In current dollars, before adjusting for inflation, giving has increased an average of 8.4 percent in years without a recession. In years with a recession, giving has increased 6.2 percent (also in current dollars). The average rate of change [emphasis is mine] in giving during a recession is a drop of 1 percent...without a recession, [the average rate of change is an increase of] 4.3 percent.”

The moral: Focus on stewardship -- recognition, information about how the donor’s gift made a difference, site visits. Focus on authentic relationship development. Focus on strategic positioning. No matter what is going on in the markets, people still want to find ways to make a difference, to help their communities, to keep beauty, ideas and wonder in the world, to save our beleaguered planet so that we may continue to live here.

Look at this: Today’s San Francisco Chronicle, announced an upgrade of a gift from Lorry I. Lokey, the founder of Business Wire, to $75 million from $33 million to help build a stem-cell institute at Stanford. Mr. Lokey got interested in response to a clear need -- just as the tech bubble was bursting in 2001.
-- Marilyn Bancel

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