Is Transformational Philanthropy in Your Future?
If you ever played baseball, you can relate to my experience. At first, I was thrilled to put on a uniform and play for a team. Then, I was excited to get a single, which is a one-base hit. As time passed, I was even more thrilled to get a double (two-base hit) and eventually a triple (three-base hit). In fact, I had four triples in one game, which is unusual. That was a thrilling day for me, until I hit my first homerun (four-base hit) over the fence. When that event happened, it was transformational for me. I never experienced a thrill like that! Once I hit that homerun, I wanted to hit more homeruns, because of the feeling received from that accomplishment. That same feeling can be transformed to philanthropy.
Lisa M. Dietlin, President and CEO of Lisa Dietlin and Associates, wrote a blog titled “Transformational Philanthropy.” Dietlin stated that a transformational gift causes a change in both the giver and the receiver, whereas a major gift is often an arbitrary number determined by the nonprofit organization to which donors are encouraged to aspire.
Transformational philanthropy is an approach to development that enables both nonprofit leaders and entrepreneurs to develop meaningful and effective ways to work together to solve 21st century challenges. By transformational, I mean a philanthropic donation that changes the course of or has a tremendous impact on a nonprofit organization.
The Alford Group believes a big vision should be created that stirs the blood of donors and inspires them to transform the impact you, and they, are able to make.
The Contributions Magazine article titled “Ten Things You Should Know About Transformational Gifts” points out that gifts of various sizes have a common tie, which is their impact. Through research regarding transformational giving, the following points are important to know if you are interested in positioning your organization to attract transformational gifts:
- Many of these gifts are from the “new” philanthropists.
- This isn’t your father’s philanthropy—it is more like your mother’s.
- Transformational donors invest in issues and ideas—not just in institutions.
- Transformational giving, because it transforms organizations, will often attract funding for both infrastructure and programming.
- Transformational donors have some exciting characteristics—ones that are changing the face of philanthropy.
- If your organization wants to attract a transformational gift, it must focus on results, not needs.
- If your organization wants to attract a transformational gift, it must also focus on the issues, ideas and values inherent in the mission.
- Transformational gifts may be decades in the making, or they may come in more quickly than you can imagine.
- Other characteristics of transformational givers provide additional reasons for looking carefully at your cultivation, solicitation and stewardship systems.
- If you remember four “I” words (issues, involvement, investment, impact), you will be better positioned to engage a potential transformational donor.
This Blackbaud “The Race is on for Transformational Donors” points out that transformational gifts are critically important to secure and sustain an organizational mission. This type of donor requires relationship-building at the highest level. Researchers found that the biggest motivator for significant charitable giving was being moved at how their gift can make a difference.
To obtain a transformational gift, a combination of elements must be present, such as the right donor, right purpose, right amount, right solicitor and right time. A 2011 study by Dini Partners of donors who contributed $100,000 to $1 million found that the single most important factor influencing is alignment with an organization’s mission.
Blackbaud notes that the keys to transformational gifts begin with endorsement from the organization’s CEO, development program redirection and focus from the chief development officer support from the organization’s board of directors and total commitment from all organizational stakeholders.
It is important for long-term financial success that transformational philanthropy be introduced in the fundraising program. To move transformational prospects toward transformational gifts, a new process must be introduced with a higher level of accountability determined. With the right program structure and emphasis, the first transformational gift will lead to others in turn. Getting a hit for a single in baseball is nice, but the homerun is transformational. Are you ready to hit the ball out the park by leading your organization to greater heights?
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, IN plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.