Barbara Melbourne at the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend recently worked with Fran Riley of KWQC-TV, the NBC news affiliate in the Quad Cities (where I grew up), on this fantastic feature that speaks to the essence of philanthropy, and the impact endowments can have to transform a region.
One of my favorite things about the New Year--and the first full week back from the holidays--is to hear about how those end of year appeals went... to dissect what worked, and consider what could be improved. We know that matching gifts and language that focuses on the donor are important. But some of the nonprofit partners we work alongside moved beyond that, and employed some neat things to move the dial on their end of year gifts.
Here's a few things that we think worked, and are ideas you might consider as you look at your annual fund programs in 2016
Matt Ehlman doesn’t really want you to meet him. He wants you to meet everybody else. He’d rather you connect face-to-face with the nonprofits, business owners, musicians, politicians, university presidents, and other folks in the Black Hills of South Dakota, around the United States, and across the seas that he works to bring together. Because, remember: people really are hungry to become a part of something that’s good. And when they join in, communities become better, stronger places.
So, I was happy to read the editorial by Sherry Ristau, the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, in today's Quad City Times. As we mark National Philanthropy Day, the editorial is a wonderful reminder of the impact philanthropy can have--in all of its forms--on transforming communities.
As the end of the year draws near, my heart and head is filled with gratitude for the good year it has been. For the people who do good things to make life better for others. For strangers who spread kindness. For friends who offer a sense of balance to the challenges we may face. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that in this season of thanks so many of our nonprofit partners we work with--and countless more all across this country--are hosting their annual gala benefits that raise money for their missions.
On Wednesday afternoon, I had a chance to fly to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for a meeting on Thursday. As I left my house (after about only 12 hours at home) I got a text from a friends from the Quad Cities--Clare Thompson, a former St. Ambrose University advancement officer who is now working at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, asking if I had time for a conversation about art and culture.
If the arts are going to take their rightful place as an important weave in the cultural fabric of our towns, cities, and nations, we--as a people--must fuel our minds and our souls with the understanding (or perhaps a better word is "acceptance") that art plays a critical part in how we live our lives, make decisions, and paint a brighter future for all.
We are very excited about a new project with the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) at the Smithsonian Institution. Matt and I recently had the privilege of spending a few days with the amazing staff of the museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC and in the Cultural Resource Center in Suitland, Maryland. It is inspiring to spend time with people so passionate and collectively focused on a mission.
Over the last week I was lucky to speak with several of the grant recipients from The Frontier Fund. The projects range from bicyclist safety and young adult alcohol education to engaging youth in mural projects and book clubs.
One story my mind keeps turning to...
On Saturday, Dima and I revved up the Mini Cooper and ventured out of Boston to North Reading, Massachusetts, to attend an afternoon celebration of "everyone who is near and dear to us." There was tons of food, a pool for kids to swim in... even big tents strung with little twinkling lights.
And then there was the small box collecting money, tucked away in the corner.