Robert F. Davis on When Major Donors Walk Away from a College (Part 3)

Considering my experience, the amount of time and money invested in a project and the host institution brings sharper focus to financial and personal involvement in institutional activities.  Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of FMC Corporation said, “The key to successful giving is the same as for successful investing.  Know the beneficiary of your educational giving as well as you know the companies in which you invest.  Satisfy yourself that the educational recipients of your contributions meet your standard educational excellence.  This best describes how the “major donor” class thinks.

Since most every school brochure you are to pick up claims “excellence” it has become obvious that serious research is necessary before making a donation.  Furthermore realize the influence, the authority you have as a donor; whether alumnus, friend, or parent.  With excellence you can’t find being prevalent and ideologies you can’t support being fostered the time may have come for you to exercise that authority.  The major donor says, “Continue along this road lacking excellence and supporting such ideologies and you lose my support.”

I am always dismayed when a donor simply walks way, not saying anything, just stopping their gifts, and losing what investment they have made.  A major degree of work for the development office is figuring out how to deal with and revitalize LYBUNTS (last year but unfortunately not this) and SYBUNTS (some year but unfortunately not this).  I used to title this work: “Operation Jump Start.”  The work is not easy, but at least these groups may remember some “joy” they had when they once gave.

The authority, and I am careful to say authority and not power, possessed by the “major donor” class is significant and if widespread among the donor base may redirect an institution’s errant detour(s).  “If you know where you are going you are more likely to get there.”  If you know why you donated your money you will want to know how it is being spent.  The reason people have money is because they learned how to handle money responsibly.  There is, however, a blind spot I have discovered and it begs a question.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Robert F. Davis