Friday, April 30, 2010


I knew Burr Gibson for rough-and-ready 40 years. Shortly after I joined The Oram Group in the mid-60s Harold Oram towed us to meetings of what was then AAFRC- now Giving Institute. There - some time toward 1970 I met Dr. Arnaud Marts the Marts in Marts& Lundy (which is more than most of the M&L staff today can claim) In due course I met Burr.

The one word that comes to mind in describing him is "gentleman." Burr first of all was an outstanding professional working in one of the best of the best in this niche business of fund raising consulting firms. But what always stood out was how much
of a gentleman he was, always respectful of others' views. He was a great listener, who embraced professionalism and ethical conduct in every bone in his body. He was terrific advocate for his clients. I learned from him and I shall miss him.

The company circulated the following message earlier this afternoon. For more on Burr's life and career please visit

Marts and Lundy

Dear Friends,

It is with tremendous sadness that we write to let you know of the passing of a beloved member of the Marts & Lundy family.

Burr Gibson was a true pioneer in the history of the firm and the field of philanthropy. With Marts & Lundy since 1964, he was named chief executive officer in 1979. Three years later, he was chairman and CEO. From 1991 until 2009, he served as executive chairman. Perhaps most notably, in 2008, he received the CASE Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors those who make "a significant and lasting impact on the field of institutional advancement through their professional accomplishments."

In numerous and profound ways, Burr touched and inspired those who knew him. A professional colleague as a well as a good friend, Burr was also our ethical conscience. We owe him a debt of gratitude for the strong reputation that the firm benefits from today. His warmth, loyalty, dedication and exemplary character will be missed more than words can express.

Yours very sincerely,


Bruce R. McClintock


Donald M. Fellows
President & CEO

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HURRY UP! Your Future May Be Behind You

Old friend and esteemed colleague Marilyn Hoyt has weighed in with her take on the year so far. By permission here it is:

The first quarter of 2010 is now completed. Where are we?


Recruiters and job post-sites indicate that staffing volatility has begun:

1) Some nonprofit colleagues are moving on because they have lost confidence in their organizations…or their supervisors and/or Trustees have lost confidence in them.

2) Some colleagues are moving on because they see flat budgets and more-of-the-same extending for years and hope to find a position where they can work on a larger palette and try new ideas once again

3) Some nonprofit organizations are pushing out existing staff and/or re-organizing in the hopes that new staff can accomplish something at a much higher level than existing staff

4) The most senior staff members at many nonprofits took salary cuts in 2009 and most of them are still in place. In 2010, other senior staff people are being asked to take cuts. (The 4/26/10 issue of the New York Times has a local story on this).

There are key lessons for all of us in this trend:

1) Those of us who supervise others need to take heart of new research findings, e.g. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us and remind ourselves that “optimal performance comes when people find intrinsic meaning in their work.” How can we be sure that those employees and volunteers we want most to retain have meaningful work?

2) Those of us who are looking toward the next step need to assess both our skill set and our desires. What kind of work do we do best? What kind of environment do we need to work effectively? There are a lot walk-on-water positions being offered right now. And as a colleague recently noted: “I understood I’d have to walk on water but I didn’t know I had to pump it myself.”

Foundations and family foundations are hanging in

1) Enough new foundations formed in 2009 that they not only made up for those that terminated or merged, but actually increased the foundation total from 96,000 to 98,000 by 2009’s end.

2) Across the country foundations are reducing the geography or program priorities and/or instituting skip years, and/or reducing the size of their grants. Although active foundations are still working with their traditional grantees, a number are also making first time grants.

3) Foundation’s generally establish their 5% grant payout requirement using a multi-year base – very often 3 years. So it will be 2011, 2012 before we see an upturn in their giving, even though many are seeing their corpus growing again with recent gains in the market.

Nonprofits are experiencing many of the same issues as for-profits

The good news out of this is that as recovery begins, we can make use of the thinking and even the working models the corporate sector is developing. A recent e-discussion of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Committee circled around these questions (summarized here from the original communication):

1) To what extent were staff cuts driven by bottom line goals?

2) As a result, to what extent are remaining staff now working outside of their core competence or across too many areas of accountability?

3) To what extent are key goals and their relationship with mission diluted? In their absence, what drives priorities? Do employees have a sense that there are priorities?

4) Is staff morale a problem as the company begins to recover and expectations rise?

Corporate foundations are looking for efficiencies

1) Electronic application forms are now a faster growing trend than before the recession

2) Cybergrant and other outsourced corporate grant managers are beginning to replace corporate foundation staff. (I am hearing about this in the Midwest and Southern California at this time. Not yet in other regions)

There are going to be fewer of us

1) With 2009 histpry, each of us is now seeing an unprecedented number of nonprofits closing their doors in every one of our fields…from dance companies to hospitals.

2) Talks of merger draw press attention but it’s too soon to tell what success they bring. (i.e. Dance Theater Workshop and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. ) And it’s too soon to tell how this will work. The last time we saw this intense merger activity was in the mid-90’s and following when hospitals formed networks to negotiate better terms with HMO’s, and ultimately doctors, suppliers and other insurers. The Stanford Social Innovation Review is currently running a free podcast by David LaPiana who consults nationally on a number of strategies ranging from shared administrative services to full mergers.

3) Some project 400,000 of the 1 million + 501(c)3’s will lose their nonprofit status as the IRS begins requiring all nonprofits (not just those operating at over $25,000) to have filed 990’s for the last three years. The filing deadline is midnight, May 15th.


For those of us raising foundation funds: Foundation Giving Forecast Survey, April 2010, Foundation Center

For those of us with teen programming or outreach: Teens and Texting, Pew Memorial Trust

For those of us finding that our traditional corporate partners are now viewing philanthropy through the wider lens of corporate responsibility: How to Read a Corporate Responsibility Report, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. When you sign up for this report as a free subscriber, you can also check off to receive Voice of Corporate Citizenship, a monthly newsletter that serves as a window into corporate thinking on corporate social responsibility.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The highlight of the just-concluded AFP* International Conference in Baltimore was Archbishop Desmond Tutu's well practiced and no doubt frequently delivered haves/haves-not speech.

Perhaps better than anyone else he dramatically takes to task and lauds philanthropy for tackling injustice, poverty, ill health, lack of educational access, decent housing, life's basics, discrimination and all the rest. His delivery is in turn elfin or arch; clever by half, outraged, a High Episcopal version of brimstone preaching, and determinedly modest. At times I wonder at the enormous inner ego needed for the outward face of humility. Nonetheless I doubt that anyone sensate can fail to respond to him and his message; it certainly got me thinking about the difference between philanthropy and charity.

In 1990 Teresa Odendahl wrote a book called "Charity Begins at Home: Generosity and Self-Interest Among the Philanthropic Elite" (New York: Basic Books) It was written during the "Points of Light" years of the Kinder Bush. One reviewer W. H. Locke summed up her thesis:

" ... About half of philanthropy is donated by multimillionaires. Most of this money goes to groups that sustain the culture, education, policy positions, and status of the well-to-do. Rich people, for example, support the 'high art' offerings of symphonies and ballets; the hospitals to which they contribute usually are not public facilities, but overwhelmingly private institutions, most of whose patients have insurance. Contrary to popular belief, less than a third of nonprofit organizations serve the needy. In fact, the wealthy end up funding their own interests."

In 2008 (2009 figures have not yet been released by Giving USA Foundation) gifts from living individuals and bequests were about $240 billion. If anything the percentage contributed by the wealthiest Americans has gone up - more and more wealth is accreted by, and in the hands of, fewer and fewer. At the same time the self-interest phenomenon Terry describes has not changed. Charity begins at home and apparently stays there in health care, the arts and education.

Philanthropy might be defined as giving that doesn't benefit the giver directly and though that may or may not be in measurable decline neither has it expanded enough or been directed to reach the poorest people on the planet. All those text messages, adopt-a-child, flies-on-their-eyes charities, direct mail responses, online giving (still pretty marginal percentage wise) and anything ending in "... thon" don't aggregate a cutting difference.

Meanwhile government aid to human service agencies around the US is in retrenchment; this is true generally in free market economies around the world - and that is now most economies the old socialist models having largely withered. (An Indian banker told me "we tried socialism for 30 years. It was a disaster!"). Though the government safety net is still stronger everywhere else in the developed world than here in America those governments can't keep up either - especially in the second and third worlds where more and more are born into poverty, live in poverty, get sick in poverty and die in poverty - having made more children of their own along the way.

Though the last few years have been rocky for US philanthropy - and thoroughly devastating for charity (as I use the term here) - there are signs of deep breathing in an oxygenated economy and hyperventilating stock market. Giving is generally a lagging indicator of recession recovery but if the economy stays on an upward course philanthropy will bounce back as well.

But the distance between the haves and the have nots - and between philanthropy and charity - is not lessening. Archbishop Tutu is clearly an optimist and a believer in what may be possible. I so wish he turns out to be right.

*Association of Fundraising Professionals

Monday, April 12, 2010


What's a girl like her doing in a place like this?

Orange is The New Black
is Piper Kerman's memoir of the 13 months she spent in federal prison for money laundering. Not your usual bad guy she is an intelligent, privileged beautiful and resourceful Smith College graduate. As the saying goes she fell in with evil companions, soon left them and completely turned her troubled life around. Piper really believed the past was in the past. Then one day ten years later there was a knock on the door. ...

Some of you know I am deeply involved with Woman's Prison Association ( and currently board president.`Piper was invited to join our board because I really felt we needed someone who had been through the criminal justice system on the other side of the bars. Piper's book came out just a few months after she came on the board - just last week in fact.

So far as we know this is only the second time in WPA's 165 year history that we have had an ex-convict as a trustee. There is no doubt she brings a perspective of great value as our money-starved agency continues to fight against the upside down logic of New York state's prison system.

The link below is from the back page of the New York Times Magazine (Lives) (March 21st)