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June 05, 2007

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Dan Bassill

I appreciate these ideas. I'd like to find ways to make them come to life.

I feel that the current way many non profits work, is that they are single agents, competing with everyone else for those enlightend donors. If you can picture a million marbles in a huge bowl, with 1,000 different colors, representing the different causes that donors, non profits, and advisors identfy with, it's pretty difficult for most non profits to connect with the donors and advisors that are interested in the same cause.

However, in the spirit of Getting Donors, Advisors, and Nonprofits on the same page." , what would it take to organize each of these 1000 colored marbles into groups, or smaller circles, where the donors, non profits and advisors are all talking to each other, or at least have a better chance of meeting others who share a similar interest?

Phil

Begin by thinking of how you might serve the enlightened donor? Engage with them, but cut them enough slack so that your network and events are a good place for them to hang out and get involved even if their current giving mostly goes elsewhere? Think about each nonprofit making an effort to uplift giving, so that each benefits directly or indirectly. Leave a Legacy takes this philosophy.

Jeremy Gregg

The idea is noble and timely, and my hope is that the current trend for "giving now" moves beyond the famously wealthy (Warren Buffett, Boone Pickens, etc.) and down to the less famously, but still extravangently, wealthy people of our world.

My concern with implementation is single: we non-profits rarely are in a position to focus on the long-term cultivation of donors necessary for such a quest. It is one thing for Charles Collier to adopt such a stance, as he sits atop one of the world's largest piles of gold (Harvard's endowment). For him, there is no desperation to pay his own salary or keep the lights on in the library.

That being said, I think that the first step is to get non-profits' boards involved in this process. Anyone willing to step up to the plate to serve as a trustee should be willing to spend a few hours additional time pondering the impact of their life's philanthropy.

Of course, every board is different. I currently work for an organization that struggles to get a quorum at our quarterly meetings (that's right, not monthly but quarterly). I am afraid that we would struggle to get anyone to attend an event like this... even though our intent would be pure, the perception would be that we want them to write us even more heavily into their will (i.e. we are thinking of killing them off to get the big bucks).

I think that what is required is first getting one person on the board to buy in: a champion who can rally the troops to get involved in this. I have serious doubts that staff, particularly non-CEO staff like development officers, would have any success at such a venture.

So, Phil.... you looking for a board to serve on? :)

Phil

Good input, Jeremy. Where is the best place in Dallas for social justice funders to come together to talk about money, family, race, poverty, and what we owe one another as human beings? A bookstore in Highland Park, the all white bubble? Communities Foundation of TX? Dallas Foundation? How about the conference room at CDM over the community food pantry on Thursday nights from 7 - 9 pm? Would anyone show up? If not what have we lost? But if we did this for awhile and a few do show up and go on to make positive changes in their plans, that would be a good thing for Dallas, and for the donors too. The venue would be CDM; the topic would wealth, family, and community.

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