January 27, 2009

Treat Donors Like Investors, a Top Philanthropist Urges

The philanthropist Lorry I. Lokey has some simple advice for fund raisers who want to cultivate strong relationships with wealthy donors: be friendly, no matter what.

Mr. Lokey, a businessman who has appeared on The Chronicle‘s list of America’s top donors every year since 2000, said in a live online discussion with readers that he works best with fund raisers who treat him as an investor — not as an ATM machine.

“I like gift officers who approach me on a peer level and truly are friendly whether or not I say yes. And if I become a donor, I, in effect, am adopting that organization as if I worked there or owned it or had close experience ties with it,” Mr. Lokey says.

“It becomes an investment that I want to follow and see success. My grants are not gifts. They are investments.”