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Pockets of Philanthropy

February 18th, 2010 Posted in Fundraising

by Terry Burton

2009 will be a memorable year in nonprofit history. The national trends according to most media sources suggested that giving was down everywhere and that the sector was suffering a collective tragedy.

Not so.

Pockets of philanthropy thrived in a number of communities as if immune to the financial troubles. As the pages of history for 2009 came and went, the good news, the outstanding news of philanthropic joy burst through the curtain of despair and shone brightly.

The national trends I followed suggested that the number of gifts were down but the dollar amount of the gifts received was higher than in recent years. Isn’t that interesting?

Here are some examples of the Good News headlines I noticed in 2009:

Western Kentucky University announced record breaking giving
for the second half of 2009

New York Opera gala event tallied the largest giving ever to the event

Milwaukee United Way surpassed fundraising goal

North Carolina nonprofits doing well despite recession

Boys Scouts USA receive largest gift ever, $50 million

University of California, Santa Barbara $40 million in fundraising

University of Indiana raised a record $221.4 million in latest fiscal year

St. Paul’s School for Girls in Baltimore, reported $1 million gift, largest ever

Community Health Network, Indiana, received largest gift ever, $1 million

University of Minnesota reported the second best ever year on record for giving

Condell Hospital, Chicago, received largest gift ever, $1 million

University of Kansas set record in number of gifts and pledges

Cazenovia College received largest gift ever, $2 million

University of Michigan, Dearborn received largest alumni gift ever of $2 million

Higher education remains the key sector of the nonprofit community. The notion of the Pockets of Philanthropy can be seen in the collection of GOOD NEWS announcements. And these do not include the surprise gifts and estate announcements that brought smiles to many fundraising teams.

2009 was a difficult year. Economic indicators just published in the last week of January 2010 report GNP was up over 4.75% for the last quarter of 2009, far ahead of projections. Momentum is building, more people are working and more jobs are being created. 2010 is already buzzing with big gifts.

This report is a part of my new publication: Survey of Major Gifts & Philanthropy – 2009, coming in February 2010.

For more information please contact Terry Burton at Dig In Research
Web site: Telephone:  248-438-8064  Email:

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