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July 27, 2004


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Dan Bassill

For the past 10 years I've been trying to recruit lawyers, accountants, financial planners, etc. to launch an open space coversation dedicated to many of the ideas expressed in this Gift Hub concept and in other posts that I've read today.

To accomplish this goal I've been giving away free advise on how business, professional groups, alumni groups, etc. can launch "hubs" where they discuss bit ideas, like making this a better world for everyone, even those born in poverty.

In the group where there is expertise on planned giving, such a discussion could attract thousands of participants over an extended period of time, and could influence the giving decisions of many people, while providing a variety of "how to" tools.

However, the "where to" is the sticking point. Once someone begins to thinking of giving, they need to decide where to give.

Since I focus on non-school tutor/mentor programs, my obvious goal is that many chose organizations that provide this type of service, including the one that I lead. So, I've created a master database of tutor/mentor programs serving Chicago, and use a GIS (Geographic Information System) to show where these programs are needed in the city, and where current programs operate. I also host a library of LINKS to research and to various tutor/mentor programs around the country in an attempt to educate the consumer so they can begin to form their own opinion on which programs do better than others and which should receive their gift.

With this information, a person who has first gone to the giving hub and become convinced that he/she should bequest large sums to a charity, can now go to a web site where they can decide which of many tutor/mentor programs should get their gift.

Imagine the impact on tutor/mentor programs if the gift hub were increasing the number of donors who were searching for places to make their contributions, based on where the need is greatest and on what programs are already working in those areas to help kids. Instead of programs spending so much of their time, and a good chunk of money, looking for money, they could spend most of their time doing the work needed to help kids move out of poverty.

By connecting the gift hub with the Tutor/Mentor Conneciton Hub, and with other hubs, we create a larger network of knowledge, and give a choice path to those who enter the giving portal. Such a path could lead to any city, or to any stream of service, not just the tutor/mentor field.

At http://www.tutormentorexchange.net/Partner/CC/Presentations/TMLN/TMLN_files/frame.htm is a Power Point presentation that describes this network of hubs. Each has a different expertise. Together they create a greater benefit and a larger community of people focused on new ways of creating a better future.

This only works if the portals and hubs that lead the giving discussion create links to portals that show what charities are operating in a given area, or serve a specific cause. Without these links, most of the new giving will continue to go to traditional places like universities, hospitals, libraries, etc., and not to the other places in a community where there is a need for financial support. Without the map, it's possible that a few high profile neighborhoods will be saturated with contributions, or a few high profile programs will be well funded, but that most neighborhoods and most programs will continue to struggle to find financial consistency.

We're building this system with the help of volunteers and a fragmented flow of dollars. If there are others who feel that such a system would be a benefit to their community or cause, I encourage you to help us build this system so that we can make it available to you and others.


Dan, you raise so many important issues. There is no one right way to do planned giving. My thought, though, is that you and others who represent causes by "go beyond the ask" by representing the givers too. That is, get the givers to our org together, convene events, schmooze fests, lectures, listen to them, accompany them on their initial steps with their advisors as they plan to be generous. Then, stay in touch, as the gift plans form. Some will give to you, others not. But the overall giving will increase. I suspect you might find that a donor giving you $1,000 when asked might end up giving $10,000 as part a plan. But would be chagrined to find that she also gave $1,000,000 to someone else? That is the kind of difference planning can make when driven by the donors passion, goals, and ideals.

I wish it were more true that donors research giving opportunities. I think it is often more like love and marriage. Not a research project but more like courtship, with a big element of luck or chance. Engagement is probably more key than "research." The Hub idea will probably work best face to face as it in Chicago, a mixer, a schmooze fest, a friendraiser. Creating connections and social capital out of which good things come.

The key point is to think how you can serve your donors, rather than how they can serve your cause. That is how we train financial professionals in the high net worth market. Those who make the mental shift and rebuild their practice not around advocacy but around service do very well.

Obviously you want to serve donors with a heart for your cause and who also have high capacity.

Within a year I hope we will be able to prove how well this works, as charities, like Changemakers experiment with this servant leadership model. I will continue to post lessons learned. Please do the same via email, blog or comment left here. Thanks, Dan, best of luck with your tutor mentor project. A wonderful thing you are doing. May your efforts prosper.

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