I Don’t Know Where to Give

I Don’t Know Where to Give

by Bill High


            Did you read the story of the Michigan university that received a gift of $100 million dollars to start a hospital?

            The gift was anonymous, and I certainly don’t know the details.  But, nonetheless, it makes one pause.  What were the circumstances that led to the gift?  Certainly we’ve read or seen situations like this where a donor makes a large gift with little apparent tie to an organization. Why?

            In some cases, the donors just didn’t know where to give.  Think about this situation—a $100 million dollar gift to start a hospital.  Does the community need a hospital?  Where will the nurses and doctors come from?  In this day of consolidation, will there be an overlap of services?  Will this lead to some empty building?

            In one of the first foundation conferences I attended, a church was in attendance because they were looking at starting a foundation from scratch.  Why?  Because a donor had just left them a $17 million dollar gift, they were forced to scramble.  In this case the donor had little relationship to the church.  In short, he just didn’t know where to give.

            As we see the Boomer generation heading toward retirement and the sale of their businesses, we’ll see more and more of this.  If these relationships are not nurtured, maintained, found, and developed, we’ll see more desperation gifts—gifts with no apparent relationship to the charity.

            Indeed, how much better if the donor can learn to develop his or her natural passion for giving and can develop a strategic plan for giving.  That approach will take a wise and seasoned team set up to serve givers in that way.

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Published March 30, 2011

Topics: Giving Strategies

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