Category Archives: Prospect Research

Talk on Twitter, Tomorrow! #FemaleFund

Copy of Black and White Abstract Photo Fashion Event Poster

To be frank, I’m hyper-conscious of the fact that most of my prospect research continues to focus primarily on middle-aged to older white men. Demographically, this will not continue to make sense as the years go on. But I keep hearing that the philanthropic sector is lagging behind demographic reality. Still, instead of continually perpetuating white male supremacy in my research practice, I’m going to change things up, one prospect profile or list of prospects, at a time. Will you join me? Will you help me, please?

I hope you’ll contribute to the conversation on Twitter and discuss ways that researchers, fundraisers and other non-profit stakeholders can move on gender equity from our special, privileged places.

After the marching, let’s continue the dialogue with specific respect to our third sector.

Some questions we’ll ask of you:

Q1 – The first question goes to #ProspectResearch pros: is researching women donors all that different from researching men? How? Or why not?

Q2 – Women’s contributions in philanthropy often remain hidden. What practical steps can we take to change that? No matter your role in the #nonprofit space, please weigh in.

Q3 – How does academic research on women and giving influence your fund development strategies, if at all?

Q4 – Tell us your opinion on *women’s giving* programs. Do you need one in order to increase women’s philanthropy at your organization? If you have one, what makes it effective and successful?

Q5 – Drawing from our communities in #prospectdevelopment, #fundraising and #philanthropy, tell us about a woman (or women) who inspires you.

For the second half of our live hour-long tweet fest, we’ll turn the questioning over to Vanessa Chase Lockshin, who plans to ask you the following questions:

Q6 – In your opinion, what could non-profits do to create work environments that are more inclusive and supportive of women?
Q7 – What are your favorite professional development resources that have supported your career growth?
Q8 – What could non-profits and/or the fundraising profession do to increase the number of women in fundraising leadership roles?
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on these topical areas and help develop some solutions.
All are welcome. Talk to you real soon.

Resolution

Do something good for someone who cannot thank you.

Feeling Included, Thanks!

Do you hear what I hear?

Presenting my very first audio-log and it’s a greeting of my gratitude for you, dear readers and engagers of A Few Great Women. It’s only four brief minutes so pour your beverage of choice and tune in.

LISTEN

Please feel free to post a comment; let me know what you think. This space is better with your thoughtful reactions.

Also check out Lady Links and Donations at the Diva Level for the latest resource and gift updates specific to women donors.

PS: Here’s the link to Teresa Younger’s interview mentioned in my message: VIEW

 

 

Empowering Philanthropic Women: Survey Said

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Renewed by some conference learning courtesy of CPRA, Apra’s Colorado chapter, I’m writing from Fort Collins, Colorado, where I had the joy and pleasure of presenting “A Woman’s Place is in Your Prospect Portfolio.” Here, I outlined a business case and moral imperative for identifying, researching, engaging and stewarding women donors. Specifically, I offered suggestions for fund development organizations to start – or carry on confidently – on the wonderful journey of advancing female philanthropy with practical data techniques and engagement strategies.

In the presentation, I drew from some survey data that was informally and unscientifically collected, collated and analyzed by yours truly. Here are some highlights about what you shared with me.

Missing Women’s Report 

For prospect development and fundraising professionals, prioritizing or at least including her in prospect research profiles and prospect portfolios formed a prominent theme:

“Put her information first in a profile, and his in the spouse section.”

“Get over the discomfort of estimating non-visible wealth! Present the household wealth and philanthropic picture, not the single biggest gift.”

“Provide balanced information on a couple. Ensure that women (mothers, daughters, and granddaughters) are included in research. Also, provide some insight into maternal lineage.”

“Strategy should include HER interests and passions. Do not make assumptions on how previous donations were decided.”

Reach Out to Her

I also asked how female fundraisers in particular, can better engage women donors in our respective missions and causes. You shared some practical approaches like:

“It may be beneficial to have two fundraisers at a meeting so a quieter spouse can be drawn out in conversation.”

“Engage women on a one-to-one basis, focus on *her* unique reason for giving; empower her vision for a better world, and honour her decisions.”

“Treat them like individuals, not stereotypical “pink” females; create more social opportunities; advocate for volunteer leadership opportunities.”

Where We Women At?

The notion or concept of invisibility permeated through cautionary (and blunt) statements about marketing / communication and stewardship of women donors:

“Think very carefully before giving an honourary degree to half of a power couple. This could be very insulting to a woman if she doesn’t receive the same recognition.”

“I am very sensitive to the images that we use in fundraising materials; recognize that we use a lot of unbearably paternalistic poses of masculine elder and eager student.”

“Seriously stop it with the old white dudes holding giant cheques.”

Broader Problems

Many survey respondents are not optimistic that the fundraising and philanthropic communities will make steady strides soon, pointing to systemic issues in gender parity:

“It looks like a few women are going to have to set big examples to get noticed. Right now major gifts are usually credited to a couple or a family even if a woman prompted it.”

“Unfortunately, much needs to be done to educate fundraisers that they need to do a better job of reaching out to all prospective donors, regardless of gender. I’m not optimistic that there will be major advances in women’s philanthropy anytime soon.”

“Advancing women’s philanthropy” is closely tied to “advancing women” — this issue is part of a much bigger problem of how we view and treat women, and women of different backgrounds, races, gender identities, etc.”

Your care and commitment to this topic shone through, dear survey respondents, so thank you so much for participating!

~~~

I’m heartened by the thoughtful questions and comments CPRA attendees shared with me about women’s philanthropy at last week’s conference. It’s clear many are already thinking about how to unravel conventional data practices that have literally hidden women’s contributions to their respective organizations. I suggested a full and thorough data audit using a gender lens, covering wide aspects of fund development operations – donations processing, donor communication rules, formal research, prospect portfolios, and stewardship practices. It takes more work, but it’s clearly worth understanding women’s contributions to your organization; a critical piece in better understanding our donor bases of strong support. 

As always, would you please care to comment on this post? Our community is stronger with information exchange and dialogue. THANK YOU!

A Few Big Questions For You

…SO

Now that you’re rested and safely back from your respective summers, how would you like to answer a few big-picture questions for our community? Your thoughtful responses will:

  • advance gender-driven prospect development practices
  • empower female fundraising leaders
  • enrich the philanthropic journeys of women donors.

Or at least provide hopeful steps toward progress in these areas.

(Tall orders by a short brown girl.)

Big Q No. 1

Why are women often ignored by major gift fundraisers?

Big Q No. 2

What simple or significant steps can a prospect development professional take to raise the profile of female constituencies at our respective organizations?

Big Q No. 3

In order to increase women donors at non-profits, how can female fundraisers work to better engage them?

Bigger Q No. 4

From where you currently stand, what does advancing women’s philanthropy look like?

Please participate by sharing your comments – anonymously, if you prefer – inside this easy Survey Monkey, by September 29, 2017. Answer one, some or all of the questions – it’s all good. And please prompt the people in your life who are interested in contributing to this topic too.

Results will be shared in upcoming blogs and presentations.

Go to this survey now and BE HEARD – HERE

With gratitude, Preeti

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Dewi Saraswati, Goddess of Knowledge in Hinduism. Her statue is located along Embassy Row in Washington, DC (July 7, 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

A place where women rule philanthropy (…and it’s close to The White House)

Thank goodness for the late Madeleine Rast’s tremendous generosity. Had she not left a sizeable estate gift to her beloved National Museum of Women in the Arts, [NMWA] in Washington, DC, I wouldn’t have come across her transformational philanthropy on my media monitor, and certainly would not have learned about this place.

(Forgive me, Feminists, I’m Canadian.)

On the 4th of July, I walked and walked DC – passing by the comfort shoe stores and organic restaurants around Dupont Circle; and by the fancy shops on Connecticut Avenue; shuffling quickly next to the eerily quiet White House; and eventually entered this iconic building – formerly a Masonic temple – on 1250 New York Avenue NW.

Rather than attempt to demonstrate, through words, the meaning and beauty of the artworks housed inside these walls, I’m sharing photos of a few of my favourite pieces that arrested my steps and truly moved my soul toward a deeper appreciation of women’s artworks.

Since this space isn’t meant to be a travelogue, I point your attention to the NMWA as it embodies all the ways women have contributed to its 30 years in existence. You see, women founded this institution based on one simple, obvious, yet rarely asked question, “Where are all the women artists?”

Women volunteer their time here. They offer their talent here. Women give here.

I believe it’s one of the few places on this planet where women feature more prominently on the donor walls (and screens and steps) than their male counterparts. A brief scan of the NMWA’s latest annual report shows more women donors than I have ever seen giving to a single organization. Most generous donors start at the US$1M level.

It’s a place that wouldn’t be possible without women who support women artists.

This Prospect Researcher is heartened by such a place, especially since I spend much of my time and energy profiling fancy financiers (men, of course) who have amassed important art collections, rivaling the ones in spaces where you and I can actually enter.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is not just an arts institution – a building where artifacts are stored and paintings displayed. It is an advocacy organization, working to champion women through the arts.

“Across the centuries, women artists have often been marginalized,” according to the NMWA. “While gender bias is less overt today, contemporary women artists still face obstacles and disparities, including being under-represented in museums worldwide.”

I hope this non-profit museum attracts more global attention by women who wish to present their work here and by media who wish to spotlight noteworthy yet lesser known artists. Avid museum goers won’t mind the US$10 fee to enter this building, even among the gigantic Smithsonian buildings a few blocks away, that are free to stroll in and out at leisure. ~~~

This post is dedicated to Jane Ebreo, my friend and colleague at St. Paul’s Foundation. She happens to be a scrupulous learner of new things and a visual artist of multiple forms. Jane has taught me how to appreciate art as storytelling, less by technique and design. Maybe we will see Jane’s work in the NMWA someday? I sure hope we do. ~~~

Stewarding donors and volunteers on steps and screens:

Stewardship

From top left: names on steps leading to one of the NMWA’s five floors; screen of donor champions; “Welcome to the museum” message (sorry you can’t see the whole image); and so many women advisers, volunteers and patrons live on the walls.

Some random pieces:

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From top left: Revival billboard outside the NMWA; What if Women Ruled the World, 2016 by Yael Bartana; “I am a writer…” (now I’ve forgotten who she was and the image isn’t great); They call me Redbone but I’d rather be Strawberry Shortcake, 2009 by Amy Sherald; and Blue Gowns, 1993 by Beverly Semmes (chiffon that goes on and on).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donation Desensitization?

Do you remember John A. Paulson? He gifted Harvard University US$400M for its engineering school, two years ago. I draw attention to his gift based solely on its astronomical size. “An historic act of generosity” is the way Harvard described its largest-ever gift, at the time.

Do you remember Marilyn Beaudry-Corbett? She gifted the University of Southern California (USC) US$4M to support mature female MBA students, two months ago. Called “visionary and courageous,” her gift happened to squeak in to my media monitoring of gifts at the million-dollar mark (and above) across North America.

John and Marilyn share a couple of commonalities. Both are intelligent investors who chose philanthropy to do some good. Both John and Marilyn value education and seek to increase access to it, as their giving clearly demonstrates.

Both John and Marilyn attended Harvard’s business school. During Marilyn’s time, however, Harvard did not allow women on its campus, so she went to nearby Radcliffe College to attend the Harvard-Radcliffe School of Business Administration. (I suppose Harvard professors agreed to teach the women only if they stayed in their place.)

I guess that’s where the similarities between John Paulson and Marilyn Beaudry-Corbett end. Also, I’m guessing that you’ve never heard of Marilyn until just now, unless you meticulously monitor media for mega gifts. Her smaller donation may not have registered in the kind of way his larger one did. As gifts grow in size, are the smaller gifts – you know, the $4M ones – merely philanthropic rubble under $40M and $400M rocks? Are we increasingly desensitized to all the great big giving going on out there?

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I think prospect development professionals are particularly prone to this phenomenon of “donation desensitization” since we study such giving so closely. We suffer from repeated exposure to transformational philanthropy!

Think about this: we’re trained to look for financial indicators first and foremost – the more, the better. The higher, even greater. Capacity of major gift donors and prospects is growing by extreme proportions. (Millionaires are OK, but billionaires are better.) Take a look at the #prospectresearch hashtag on Twitter, where you’ll find the latest news about sky-high luxury real estate in NYC (pun intended) or the growing number of gazillionaires on the latest Forbes list.

Are mid-level million-dollar donors – in the $1M to $10M range – even worth a prospect researcher’s attention now? This working-class prospect researcher hopes so. I’m trying not to perpetuate “donation desensitization.” For example, when a $40,000 gift comes in to my organization, I take the time to congratulate the frontline fundraiser who secured that donor’s generosity. I want to know more about who that donor is and what prompted her or his act of giving; trying hard not to take such a gift for granted.

We would likely pay more attention to women’s philanthropy if we face “donation desensitization” straight on. Women give big, but perhaps not quite at the $400M level yet. Watch power women like Mellody Hobson and Sheryl Sandberg patiently, as they are just starting to set inspirational examples on their respective philanthropic journeys.

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Her giving deserves eternal accolades, too. Perhaps she initially gave more of her time and then her talent; eventually her treasure? Even if she left a gift in her will that was realized only upon her death. Or maybe her outright donation didn’t crack the mega-million dollar mark? Is her philanthropy somehow less transformational? I say she deserves acknowledgement still.

Please refer to a new kind of donor roll: [*drum roll*] Donations at the Diva Level. It’s a short summary of major gifts made by women, sometimes specifically for women’s causes, that managed to make the headlines (and their way into my media monitor).

Bookmark Donations at the Diva Level Page HERE

These women made gifts at the million-dollar+ level to organizations of their endearment in recent memory. This is my little way of celebrating their philanthropy, by sharing with you, dear readers, the positive emotional responses their gifts continue to elicit from me.

Care to comment? Tell me about a woman at your organization who has quietly gone about giving her time, talent and treasure with little fanfare. I would love to add her generosity to this list. Let’s celebrate her altruistic and courageous acts together, shall we?