Posted , by Wesley Stanley, Marketing Director. Topic: Philanthropy Research & Events.

If you’ve visited our Facebook page lately you’ve seen some of our takeaways from the Giving Institute’s recent Summer Symposium. The annual event, co-chaired this year by Keith, drew a diverse crowd of Giving Institute board members, senior managers from member and guest firms, as well as distinguished practitioners from across the country. After four days of stimulating presentations and conversation, Keith and Wendy left with a variety of valuable insight, more of which we’d like to share with you:

  • Director of Research at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Patrick Rooney, shared that the wealthiest 3% of Americans are responsible for 2/3 of household giving—a pretty remarkable statistic!
  • Steve MacLaughlin, Director of Internet Solutions at Blackbaud, noted that $20 billion was raised via online giving in 2010, accounting for 7% of total giving. While this is an increasing trend, we must keep in mind that nonprofits need to continue using a multi-channeled approach when conversing with and soliciting donors—after all, sometimes the most traditional lines of communication can drive donors to an organization’s website to give.
  • Steve also shared that 77% of nonprofits raise less than $1,000 through Facebook. This really drives home the point that, for nonprofits, using Facebook is really more “friendraising” than fundraising.
  • A discussion on mobile giving was also a part of Steve’s session. He commented that it is one of the worst ways to raise money. The gift amount is often capped at $10, it’s an expensive acquisition and the information that an organization is able to capture is very limited.
  • Matthew Bishop, US Business Editor and New York Bureau Chief of The Economist shared highlights from his book, Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World, and discussed issues concerning the economic climate and philanthropy. It’s a book that’s definitely worth checking out. Additionally, the notion that we are living in a dual economy; one for the rich (more globally focused) and one for everyone else, stimulated interesting conversation following his session.
  • Panel members Patrick, Mathew and Bob Ottenhoff, President and CEO of Guidestar, all emphasized the importance of making donors realize that overhead is not always a “dirty” word. In order for an organization to operate efficiently and effectively, they must have overhead. Therefore, sometimes the best thing a donor can do for an organization is invest in overhead, which essentially serves as an unrestricted gift.
  • It was mentioned in one session that young entrepreneurs statistically give more than those individuals who have inherited a business. The general consensus was that this younger generation of donors seem to have a different approach to giving. They like to leverage their gifts and seem to gauge the impact and effectiveness of an organization in more meaningful ways.
  • Lastly, in his session Matthew quoted Bill Gates as having once said, “Giving money away is fun.” This reminded us of one of our recent client’s donors (a family foundation, actually) who upon pledging their $250,000 gift exclaimed, “This is exciting—now the fun begins!” Imagine if everyone had this mentality!

Feel free to comment or leave a question about any of the insight we’ve shared from this year’s Summer Symposium.

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