5 Myths of Evergreen Philanthropy: Part 3
So, what’s “evergreen philanthropy”? It’s investors that keep on giving. And giving. And giving more.
“Does that really happen?” you say. Yes, it does. And yet, when asked how to make this a reality, nonprofit leaders usually offer a series of predictable myths. Creating the situation where a philanthropic investor will become “evergreen” isn’t all that hard—or unusual. It’s often counterintuitive, however.
Those myths? Here is the third of my top five:
Myth No. 3: It’s About the “Big Gifts”
The entire nonprofit community—in the U.S. at any rate—is obsessed with “major gifts.” You know the ones. Those gifts, which are of such size, that create big waves as they wash up on the beach of the nonprofit.
“Big” and “major” are relative terms. For the small organization, $1,000 is a lot of money. For many universities, the “major” gift doesn’t become real until we’re talking $1 million or more—sometimes much more.
It’s a well-known fact that about 80 percent of what a nonprofit organization will receive in philanthropic support will come from about 20 percent of the total number of investors. So, in that way, the “big” gifts do matter—a lot.
What’s missing here is that “big gifts” or “major gifts” conceal the fact that these gifts never come out of the blue, and the donors who give them almost always start out by making modest gifts—sometimes very modest.
Today’s token donor can very well be a major investor in a couple of years. It pays for an organization to build relationships with all those who support them.
For while the “big gifts” provide scale, the modest ones provide legitimacy. They demonstrate real community support.
Without a broad base of support, no organization, no matter how well funded, will endure. We’ve all seen this with a single donor coming in, providing a lot of money, but for some reason, the organization never succeeds. That’s because they forgot to reach out to the little guys.
To your fundraising success!
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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