Giving Priorities of Savvy Donors

When making gifts to charity do you take the time to learn about the leadership of an organization and the impact it is making?

Leadership in an organization can mean everything.  It can mean the difference between winning and losing, profit and loss, effectiveness and ineffectiveness.  Great leaders can produce significant impact and results, while poor leadership can create devastating consequences for many employees and their families, as was the case during the market meltdown of 2008.  Bad decisions made by corporate leaders resulted in many companies merging or going out of business and many people losing their jobs.

In the nonprofit world, savvy donors consider making charitable contributions that support leadership and impact.  Solid leadership is a good indicator for sustainability of an organization and its mission.  Impact demonstrates the results and leverage donors seek through their giving.   

A great example of excellent leadership that savvy donors support was displayed by Dr. Gayle D. Beebe (current president of Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA) during his tenure (2000 – 2007) as president at Spring Arbor University, Spring Arbor, Michigan.  In 7 years under Dr. Beebe’s leadership: The University’s enrollment increased by 255% (1570 to 4002 students); 13 new academic programs were initiated reflecting the changing educational needs and demands in the marketplace; and the University expanded or renovated over 280,000 square feet of its campus facilities. 

Dr. Beebe’s leadership laid the groundwork for the University’s continued excellent leadership in higher education and success today having been ranked in 2015 by The Economist number 2 in the state of Michigan and 112th nationally in terms of economic value of all colleges and universities.   

Although there are many examples of positive impact that savvy donors support, one example that stands out is the Lourdes Senior Community, Waterford, Michigan.  Since 1948, the Lourdes Senior Community, a Catholic nonprofit continuing care retirement community sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Peace, has grown into a neighborhood of 250 seniors living in four distinct residences.

Through its core values of dignity, spirituality, compassion and service, Lourdes Senior Community offers comfortable living and care that meet the physical, spiritual and psychological needs of its residents.  The organization has a long history of offering high quality healthcare services and programs.  In 2013, U.S. News & World Report magazine named Lourdes as one of the best nursing facilities nationally and the Oakland Press readers selected Lourdes as Best of the Best for senior living. 

Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit may have best described the “Lourdes impact in care” when he said, “There is no hopeless situation.  There is no person who is not worth doing whatever it takes to care for them.  People who are in situations that may seem hopeless will see the face of Jesus through the love and care they receive at Lourdes.”

The love and care the older generation receives through senior communities such as Lourdes, will prove more and more impactful in our society as the population of America ages. 

When making gifts to charity do you take the time to learn about the leadership of an organization and the impact it is making?

Sometimes it is difficult to discern the effectiveness of an organization’s leadership and impact.  That is one of the many benefits of “watchdog” type of organizations who attempt to measure the effectiveness of charities. 

However, there is one simple question that you can answer that will help in your discernment.  Ask yourself, “do the actions and services of the organization line up with who they say they are and how you perceive them to be?”  If all align then you can feel confident in moving forward.

And a result of your implementing these giving priorities of savvy donors will also help the charities you support be positioned for a sustainable, impactful future.    

For more thoughts on generosity pick up a copy of the enjoyable book, “An Unexpected Legacy: Strategies of Generosity.”    Click here to place your order.