Moore College Lands Its Single Largest Gift

The Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia, Pa., received the largest donation in its 170-year history. The $5-million gift from New York artist Jane Walentas and her husband, David, will fund scholarships for artists at the nation’s first and only visual art and design school for undergraduate women.

The scholarships will be part of the Visionary Woman Honors Program, which provides “financial support and sustained mentorship to talented, motivated and future-focused students, both inside and outside the classroom,” according to a press release announcing the gift. Jane played an integral role in the launch of the Visionary Women Scholarship Program in 2005.

The endowment will provide scholarships each year to 10 non-Pennsylvania residents accepted to Moore who “display exceptional artistic and academic promise.” Each scholarship will be automatically renewed for up to four years of full-time enrollment with the upkeep of the student’s Grade Point Average (GPA). The first scholars will be chosen among students attending Moore for the first time this fall as part of the incoming class of 2023. The college will begin to award scholarships from the endowed fund in fall 2020.

A 1966 graduate of Moore College, Jane Walentas is a longtime member of the college’s board of trustees. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from New York University before many years as an art director in cosmetic advertising for Elizabeth Arden, Avon and Estee Lauder.

Walentas is known for restoring and operating Jane’s Carousel, a historic 1922 carousel in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood, an area developed by her husband through his firm, Two Trees Management.

Walentas is executive director of the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, which awards rent-free, non-living studio space to 17 visual artists for year-long residences in DUMBO. The Walentas’ took over the program with new sponsorship and commitment from the Walentas Family Foundation.

Donors Opting To Pay Fees

Donors seem to love the idea of 100 percent of their donation going to their charity of choice. Some even go so far as to tack on a few dollars to their gift to cover the processing and transaction fees associated with the donation. “It’s an indicator of their sort of the love for the […]

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Female Donors Give More To Women’s, Girls’ Causes

Female donors to women’s foundations and funds give more than general donors, have been giving to those causes for a longer period of time, and do more than just write checks, according to a new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.

Those are some of the findings from “All In for Women & Girls,” which was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The 36-page report, released this morning, “examines the unique role that high-net-worth donors to women’s funds and foundations play in catalyzing support for women’s and girls’ causes.” The report was based on a new survey of high-net-worth donors, comparing women’s fund and foundation donors to a group of more “general” high-net-worth donors to a variety of causes.

“This is the first report to look at the intersection of high-net-worth donors, giving to women and girls, and women’s funds and foundations,” said lead researcher Elizabeth J. Dale, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Seattle University. “It finds that women’s fund and foundation donors give significant, substantial support for women’s and girls’ causes and bring a ‘gender lens’ to their philanthropy. We know that investing in women and girls leads to real and lasting change in communities – this research can help continue to drive funding for gender equity and provide a model for other identity-based causes,” she said in a press release announcing the results.

Donors to women’s funds and foundations in the survey gave more than $48,000 in 2017 with $12,790 in giving to women and girls, compared with $30,000 by general donors, including $7,626 to women and girls. Women’s fund and foundation donors also gave to more organizations, 19, of which more than three were focused on women and girls, versus 14 by general donors, of which, slightly more than 1 was a women’s and girls’ nonprofit.

Almost 60 percent of women’s fund and foundations donors serve on the board of a women’s or girls’ organization compared with just 23 percent of general donors and 43 percent view themselves as a leader in philanthropy versus 24 percent of general donors. More than a quarter of them are members of giving circles while just 8.4 percent general donors said they are.

Among the largest disparities in motivation between women’s donors and general donors was serving on a nonprofit board; about three-quarters of women donors compared with a third of general donors.

Women’s fund and foundation donors have given to women’s and girls’ causes for a longer period of time, on average for more than three years longer than general donors. Some 58 percent of women’s fund and foundation donors have given for at least a decade compared to 41 percent of general donors.

Compared to general donors, the report found that women’s fund and foundation donors are more likely to be women and LGBTQ individuals, and less likely to be retired or religious.

Nearly 12 percent of women’s fund and foundation donors, about one in eight, identify as LGBTQ; that’s more than four times the proportion in the general donor sample of 2.4 percent. Just 36 percent of these donors are retired compared to 55 percent of general donors and about 28 percent said they attend religious services at least monthly compared to 41 percent of general donors.

The sample used for this report is all respondents who completed key portions of the survey and qualified as high-net-worth – a total of 967 respondents. Of those, 187 were donors to a women’s fund or foundation and the remaining 780 were “general donors” who had established a donor-advised fund.

The Ultimate Formula

Stories push donors to react to needs and ideas People as we know them today appeared around 200,000 BC. We have lived in small communities, bands, and tribes for most of our history. We communicated verbally and conveyed our stored wisdom to new generations through stories. Telling and listening to stories is deeply ingrained. The […]

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Developing A Donor Separation Strategy

If you really want a donor, you need a separation strategy. The estrangement is not between the organization and the donor prospect but involves your organization and others with similar missions or in close proximity in a community.

You need to understand your audience and how to build a relationship with people who care about your cause. It takes a relationship continuum to be successful at fundraising. It takes storytelling.

That’s the story — and they were sticking to it — as told by Mary Walter-Brown, founder and chief executive at News Revenue Hub in San Diego, Calif., and Robert Rivard, founder, editor and publisher of the Rivard Report in San Antonio, Texas. The duo made their comments during a session at the annual Association of Fundraising Professionals’ international conference in San Antonio, Texas.

There are five elements to the relationship continuum: Random Hook-Up (Causal Visitor), Casual Dating, Email subscriber (committed relationship) and Engaged and Married (monthly recurring donor), according to Walter-Brown and Rivard.

You need to get some information. Who are your random hook-ups? Where do they live and work? How did they find you? What do they want? How long will they stay?

You also need answers from your committed supporters. Where do they live and work? How did they find you? Why do they give? How long will they give?

The separation comes once you have solid information. You need a separation statement. What makes you different from everyone else? That statement needs to include a current description, your desired target audience/members, the promise you’re making to your desired audience/members, how you’re going to support the promise, your desired personality and your desired vision, according to Walter-Brown and Rivard.

Stories have changed and made history, American history, from the Minutemen to Rosa Parks to #MeToo. The stories sparked movements. Once you have the above elements in place you can start telling your organization’s story.

There Are No “Default” Donors Anymore

The “default audience” for most nonprofits has been donors who typically are white, non-Hispanic, strongly religious females who make three small to medium gifts a year; or non-Hispanic men, who make one-time large gifts over the course of a year. The challenge for fundraisers is to consistently bring in new donors while retaining existing donors.

That challenge of developing a diverse pool of donors was the subject of the session “The Color of Money,” presented by fundraisers Shawn Wills, CFRE and Lenita Dunlap, MPA, during the recent Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual international conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Willis and Dunlap asked the group what strategy nonprofits were taking in connecting with donors because “one fits all” approach doesn’t work like it previously did.

Donors expect more and fundraisers have to gain their trust. Your nonprofit’s message needs to appeal to all types of consumers, coming from different generations and ethnicities. Their unique experiences and expectations influence the choices they make, particularly why and what they support, Willis and Dunlap said.

You get a donor’s attention by getting to know them, according to Wills and Dunlap. Your funders make up three distinct generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Once you figure what they’re about, you’ll have greater success bringing in new donors and better serving your current constituents, they told the audience.

To better prepare to understand and engage diverse donors, nonprofit leaders should work to diversify organizational boards and staffs, including the development staff, to reach an audience that is vastly different than the one that has been depended on.

Shared beliefs are the most powerful drivers of commitment. After board and staff development think about Giving Circles, Auxiliary Groups, Diverse Chambers and Religious Organizations as potential donors.

Donor Prospects Update Their LinkedIn, Not Charities

LinkedIn was relatively new when Sree Sreenivasan last presented at Fundraising Day in New York (FRDNY) a decade ago. If you joined LinkedIn 10 years ago your boss might be worried that you’re looking for a job. “Today, your boss might be on LinkedIn and also don’t know what they’re doing,” he quipped.

Sreenivasan, a social and digital media consultant, presented a session titled “Fact-Finding in the Era of Social Media and Fake News” during 2019 iteration of FRDNY last week at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) New York City Chapter.

“I don’t think I need this, I don’t need a job,” most fundraisers would argue but a lot of development officers are not using and optimizing LinkedIn, Sreenivasan argued. Much of it applies to job hunting but it’s also related to what development officers do: prospect research.

Universities have developed their own alumni databases but LinkedIn is even more accurate because people typically update LinkedIn before they alert their alma mater, said Sreenivasan, a former chief digital officer for the City of New York, Columbia University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

LinkedIn allows you to search not just by name but also by company and title. You could find people who are no longer at a company or you may know them in their new life and perhaps they might have “looser lips,” or could provide insights into a former boss or employee, Sreenivasan said. “Play to the LinkedIn algorithms and find some fun things that may spark a conversation in an interview,” he said.

Nonprofits can’t just keep talking about themselves or people tune you out, Sreenivasan said, encouraging charities to be creative in their LinkedIn activity, beyond just boasting about the organization. Another way for you to be in the conversation is sharing articles on LinkedIn. Being a great pointer to topics is very helpful, he said.

Giving Pledge Gets New Billionaires To Sign On

The Giving Pledge has eclipsed 200 signees after the latest batch of philanthropists announced, which included MacKenzie Bezos, the soon-to-be ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Another 19 people have signed on to the Giving Pledge, bringing the total number to 204, according to an announcement released yesterday. The pledgers, ranging in age from 33 to 95, span 23 countries.

MacKenzie will hold a 4 percent stake in Amazon once her divorce is final, which is expected in July, according to The New York Times. A 4-percent stake would be worth roughly $36 billion.

The new signatories announced Monday included:

  • Tegan and Brian Action
  • Brian Armstrong
  • Steward and Sandy Bainum
  • Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Bin Musallam Bin Ham Al-Ameri
  • Ben Delo
  • Jeremy and Hanne Grantham
  • David and Claudia Harding
  • Sonia and Paul Tudor Jones
  • Ryan D. “Jume” Jumonville
  • Erica and Jeff Lawson
  • Francine A. LeFrak and Rick Friedberg
  • Daoming Liu
  • John and Marcy McCall MacBain
  • Emily and Mitchell Rales
  • Chris and Crystal Sacca
  • Paul and Jennifer Sciarra
  • Nicolai and Katja Tangen
  • Robert and Jane Toll

Founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010, the Giving Pledge is a commitment by some of the world’s wealthiest people to give more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes during their lifetime or in their wills.

The Giving Pledge signatories convene this week for an annual two-day learning conference to discuss their experiences in giving and to learn from each other and outside experts about how to be most effective with their philanthropy. Among this year’s topics are how philanthropy can make a difference in education, climate and clean energy, equity and access to health care, community development, and disaster relief.

The Giving Pledge does not involve pooling or granting funds or requirements to support any particular cause or organization. For the full list of pledgers and their personal letters stating their commitment to give, visit

$10 Million in Free Museum Admissions

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles will use a $10 million gift to fund free general admission to the museum. Board of Trustees President Carolyn Clark Powers pledged the eight-figure gift during MOCA’s benefit on Saturday.

In a press release, the museum said it immediately would begin working on a roll-out plan to implement the gift as soon as possible. The gift comes seven months into Klaus Biesenback’s tenure as MOCA director and as the museum celebrates its 40th anniversary.

General admission to MOCA is free for all members and free to the public on Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. Otherwise, general admission typically is $15 for adults and $8 for students and $10 for senior citizens.
Founded in 1979, MOCA reported total revenue of $20 million on its most recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990, for the fiscal year ending June 2017. Program revenue totaled about $2.45 million, including $1.474 million classified as “admission fees.”

In the preceding two years, MOCA reported revenue of $22 million, including $985,000 in admission fees, and $44 million, including $707,000 in admission fees. In 2014, the museum reported significantly higher total revenues of $91 million as it reached its goal of $100 million to boost its endowment. That goal was reached in 2014, within less than 10 months, and MOCA planned to raise an additional $50 million. The campaign came months after a merger with Los Angeles County Museum of Art fell through.

Admission fees can sometimes be a quandary for museums and cultural institutions. The Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum announced a $24 admission fee ahead of its opening in 2014, drawing some criticism. The public, above-ground memorial, opened in 2011 remains free.

Just last year, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City changed its 50-year-old pay-what-you-wish policy for visitors outside of New York State. Tri-state area residents (including New Jersey and Connecticut) can still pay as they wish but visitors from outside the state have a mandatory admission fee of $25 for adults, $17 for seniors and $12 for students. Admission for children younger than 12 and members and patrons is still free.

The pay-as-you-wish model was not sustainable to fund daily operations, according to the museum. Admissions revenue comprises about 14 percent of the museum’s $300-million budget, with additional support from the city.
An agreement between the museum and the city called for sharing a portion of the new revenue with the city, to be distributed to organizations in underserved communities. Some $2.8 million in funding was announced in March, to be awarded to 175 cultural organizations.

Best Sustainer Retention Rates Are Online

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has been in the monthly giving business a long time. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit started its sustainer program, Partners, during the 1990s with 2,000 members. Today, it has more than 83,000 sustainers, responsible for more than $1.1 million in revenue per month.

Kristina Williams, senior manager, membership, for HRC, joined a panel session during the Nonprofit Technology Conference (#19NTC) in Portland, Ore., called “Sustainers: Everyone Wants Them But How Do You Get Them?” (#19ntcSustainers) to share best practices and experience around the HRC monthly giving program.

Almost one-quarter of HRC’s overall revenue each month is via monthly gifts and 37 percent of its donors give monthly. The best retention rates are found via online (75 percent) and direct mail (79 percent)

Among HRC’s monthly donors, Baby Boomers are the most likely group to make recurring donations, Williams said. Street canvassing brings in the highest number of new Partners but it requires a large infrastructure and support. Since 2016, HRC has experienced 47 percent growth, with more than 31,000 last year. While canvassing boasts the highest revenue of any channel — $2 million in 2018 — it also has the lowest average gift and retention of any channel.

HRC’s direct mail welcome kit uses a monthly-first mantra from the beginning in new one-time donor welcome packets. Telemarketing focuses new donor conversion every other month and is seeing a 3-percent sustainer rate.

Make it easy and obvious to make a monthly gift on your organization’s website, Williams said. The toggle form is key — try pre-selecting a tab for monthly donations. Invitation campaigns should vary based on prior giving. Switch it up between text and graphic-heavy mailings. Threats and urgency are motivators, so use a goal and a deadline, and include broad themes.