Major Donors & Philanthropists

OnPhilanthropy has published an essay I wrote for them called “Turning Major Donors into Philanthropists”.

“My son was born last year. At the hospital, there was a wall with 100 bricks bearing the names of the major donors who had funded the capital campaign to build the facility. Ninety-nine of the bricks listed the names of individuals or couples. One brick listed a family foundation.

Over the next 30 years, nonprofits are going to spend an enormous amount of time and effort turning their major donors into philanthropists. When my grandson is born, I fully expect to visit a hospital and find a wall of bricks honoring the 99 philanthropic entities and the one individual who supported the capital campaign…”

You can read the rest of the essay here.

The essay focuses on high net worth donors, but I firmly believe that the “philanthropization” of American donors will affect all levels of givers. The Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund recently lowered their minimum to open a donor advised fund account to $5,000. How long will it be before the online banking model, which has brought us high yield, no minimum balance savings accounts, is fully replicated in the donor advised fund market? Can the hugely successful ING Direct Orange Savings Account offering be extended to the philanthropic sector?

The day may come soon when it becomes common to open up a donor advised fund at the same time you open a checking and savings account — no matter what level of giving you engage in.