Happy New Year to you and yours. As we all move into 2011, the best of/worst of/biggest of/etc reports of 2010 are coming at us thick and fast. For example, the Chronicle of Philanthropy has posted its table of the for 2010. The list has 293 as of our posting, with the largest being an anonymous donation of $200 million given to Baylor University (Waco, TX). Indeed, only six of the top 25 gifts went to non-educational institutions. As recently, universities and arts foundations are by far the greatest recipients of big-money donations because of their abilities to develop long-term relationships with gift givers. But other organizations made the cut as well.
Both the Mayo Clinic and the University of Ohio hospitals were in the top 25, and a smattering of faith-based organizations can be found in the top 50 (and below). A good number of school districts also received gifts, the largest and most famous of which was Mark Zuckerberg’s gift to the Newark School system.
The same Chronicle has also produced a list of the top 18 gifts by known individuals (i.e., not by anonymous donors or by trusts/foundations). Again, educational institutions are by far the most common recipients of the largess.
The scale of these gifts might be only in the realm of fantasy for some of our readers, but the lessons of how to draw that kind of big-gift support are clear: like universities and arts foundations, develop long-term relationships with people who want your organization to succeed and who want to enjoy a personal benefit from supporting your organization. And, when the time comes, do not be afraid to ask big. If you have been sincere in courting your benefactor(s), they will not say ‘no’ and walk away – they will simply talk with you about finding a meaningful, but affordable, gift. Your mission-based organization need not be on the Chronicle’s list for 2011 to have a successful (new) year.