HaynesAPR22DonorRelationships_20220318_mcgarvey_PJ_0357

Good morning.

If you’ve been in an airport in recent days, the crowds will tell you right away just how many people are resuming a way of life we haven’t seen in such full gear since March 2020.

That doesn’t mean all donors and fundraisers are back to their heavy travel schedules or ready to return to the courting and cultivation that once happened largely in person. But even as they do, it’s clear that a lot has changed in the interactions that lead to big gifts.

Emily Haynes has spent the past few weeks interviewing fundraisers nationwide for a special report in our April issue, and the most notable thing she found was how much they think donors have changed. Many have been through challenging times, and they want to talk about it, often in long, intimate conversations, fundraisers say.

“We’re the first to hear from prospects what they’re going through,” says Reshunda Mahone, a fundraiser at Emory University’s business school. She says development leaders like her are now pushing themselves not only to bring in the dollars their organizations need but also to provide emotional support to their frontline fundraisers and the donors they meet with.

But donors are also far more decisive about their priorities, says Patrick Gamble (above), who heads fundraising at SproutFive, an early-childhood nonprofit in Columbus, Ohio. “People are like, ‘Alright, I only really care about this,’” he says. “‘Don’t talk to me about the playground.’”

At the same time, donors have had time to reflect on their giving priorities, and they want to move fast to make their contributions.

“We’re all taught that the major-gift cycle is 18 months — that you need to wait, that you need to build up,” says Kathryn Van Sickle, director of major gifts at New York’s Chapin School. “That’s no longer the case because people have taken a lot of time to sit down, to revisit their values, to think about their legacies.”

Here’s what else you need to know:

Sevonna Brown of Black Women’s Blueprint looks at food and essential items that were delivered to her on May 11, 2020 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough in New York City.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans gives to groups that aren’t registered as charities, a new study finds.

Mutual-aid groups, rent-relief funds, and other informal efforts are attracting contributions from a large share of donors. What’s more, about one third of Americans are giving to individuals and others in need of help through crowdfunding and other means.

The study also found that the vast majority of people give some combination of money, time, and goods.

Still, “the charitable sector is very focused on one particular type of giving and one particularly transactional relationship with givers,” says Woodrow Rosenbaum, GivingTuesday’s chief data officer, who oversaw the new study. “That’s not how they prefer to be engaged, so we’re leaving a lot of opportunity on the table by not embracing, celebrating, and understanding that better.”

Experts differ over whether President Biden’s “billionaire tax” would stimulate more giving by the wealthy.

People with $100 million or more in wealth would be subject to at least a 20 percent tax rate — and that would also apply to unsold appreciated stock and other liquid assets, which currently are taxed only when they are sold, report Maria Di Mento and Dan Parks.

That could give rich donors, whose average tax rate is currently 8.2 percent, incentive to bump up their giving.

Ray Madoff, a Boston College tax-law professor who is an expert in philanthropy, says the new tax would be “a very good thing for charitable giving” because people would be less likely to hold on to their assets if they have to pay taxes every year on the increase in value. But others think it is far too early to tell whether the proposal, which is expected to encounter a lot of political bumps, will make a big difference to nonprofits.

Mark and Robyn Jones, founders of Goosehead Insurance, visit with Montana State University nursing students after the announcement of a $101 million gift to the College of Nursing Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. The gift will support the MSU College of Nursing in meeting the future health care needs of Montana.

Plus, we have more about how the nation’s most affluent people give now: A couple new to Montana who reached out to Montana State University to help start a medical school were persuaded instead to give $101 million to the College of Nursing to help solve a severe statewide shortage of health professionals, reports Ben Gose.

Also: San Francisco philanthropists David and Jennifer Risher, who made their fortune in technology, created the #HalfMyDAF challenge to urge other wealthy people to give from their donor-advised funds — even offering to match those gifts, reports Maria Di Mento. The important thing, they say, is to do it now.

Takeaways from the pandemic could help philanthropy and government create a more effective, resilient health-care system.

By deploying trillions in federal money — and more than $6 billion from philanthropy in just the first few months — as well as ditching red tape and listening to local organizations, the health-care system was able to help hard-to-reach communities in unprecedented ways, writes Susan Watson of the Public Health Institute in an opinion piece. Now the challenge is to use that knowledge to help more diverse and rural populations, which still lag in access to reliable information, protective equipment, and vaccines.

“The enormousness and urgency of the challenge required grant makers to be bold, try new approaches, reimagine bureaucratic requirements, and embrace ambiguity,” writes Watson. “The question now is, will we heed those lessons or return to the status quo?”

Captain Oleg Samoilenko (center) of The Salvation Army in Poland discusses logistics with colleagues before serving refugees arriving in Warsaw by bus from Ukraine. (The Salvation Army)

Helping Ukrainian refugees streaming into Warsaw means scrambling to find food, shelter, and medical care but also dealing with diverse needs, such as those of expectant mothers and LGBT people.

Most refugees are women and children, a Salvation Army worker told Emily Haynes. Shelters are already overflowing so many are homeless. Mothers are trying to enroll their kids in schools, even though they don’t understand the language, and anybody wanting to travel outside of Poland needs proof of vaccination.

The organization connects LGBT people, who have little in the way of public support or legal rights in Poland, with a local human-rights organization.

Plus: Among the best ways to help Ukrainians is to give to their local journalism, writes Jeanne Bourgault of Internews, which supports independent media: “It’s local media that bring lifesaving information to communities about conflict areas to avoid, where to take shelter and get food, and how to travel safely.”

With so many nonprofits taking spring break next week, we’ll be on a publishing hiatus so you’ll next receive this weekly newsletter on April 23. But if major news breaks, we’ll update our site.

We hope you have a chance to unplug in the coming days.

Stay strong.

Marilyn Dickey and Stacy Palmer

More News, Advice, and Opinion

WHAT WE’RE READING ELSEWHERE

A nascent movement seeks to harness the astronomical growth in donor-advised fund holdings to lift up communities that suffer “systemic oppression.” (Next City)

The Community Art Project in Laguna Beach, Calif., ended its 20-year run of exhibitions at a local Wells Fargo branch after bank officials asked the nonprofit to remove quilts depicting social- and racial-justice images..” (Hyperallergic)

With her latest round of gifts, MacKenzie Scott is plunging deeper into international philanthropy. (Bloomberg)

A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit brought by the Girl Scouts against the Boy Scouts over the Boy Scouts’ attempts to recruit girls. (Associated Press)

The nonprofit Braver Angels is on a mission to get people divided by politics to treat one another with civility. (NPR)

NEW GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

Your Chronicle subscription includes free access to GrantStation’s database of grant opportunities.

Criminal justice. The Department of Justice “Second Chance Act Community-Based Reentry Program” seeks to help communities develop and implement strategies to reduce recidivism. Funding may be used for mentoring programs during incarceration, through transition back to the community, and post-release; transitional services to assist in reintegration, including educational and vocational services, substance-abuse disorder treatment, family services, housing, health care, and other services; and training regarding incarcerated people and victims’ issues. Applications are due by May 16.

Humanities. The National Endowment for the Humanities supports projects that interpret and analyze humanities content in primarily digital platforms and formats, such as websites, mobile applications and tours, interactive touch screens and kiosks, games, and virtual environments. Funding can go to preliminary research, prototyping to design or create prototypes, and production to produce the final version of the project. Optional drafts are due May 5. The application deadline is June 8.