Show Me The Money!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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By Howard Benson, posted October 5, 2013

As a community leader, you’re probably asked as often as I am about the current level of difficulty in raising money due to the sluggish or uncertain economy. My standard answer is that it’s not been any easier, or, for that matter, any more difficult than when all of America’s economic signals were green lights.

We know that an important, urgent cause with the right leadership behind it can be funded in any economy; it’s only a matter of the level of funding available. We routinely raise impressive sums in economically stressed communities when we position the project as a critical need, and our client is seen as well led and capable of making a measurable impact. Conversely, our feasibility studies have yielded prudent “no-go” recommendations for campaigns in wealthy, thriving communities where prospective donor/investors view our client’s cause as a low priority and our client bereft of “asking rights.”

You’ll be encouraged to know that, nationally, there has been a general uptick in charitable giving in the past few years. A study conducted by the Giving USA Foundation, whose research NCDS has helped fund over the years, reveals these useful nuggets from the most recent data:

  • Corporate giving increased by 12.2% in 2012
  • Individual giving rose by almost four percent
  • As a percentage of America’s GDP, charitable giving amounts to 2%
  • In the past decade, total giving increased by $78.78 billion
  • Gifts to arts, health, religion and other activities totaled $316.3 billion, up from $305.5 billion in 2011
  • The categories gaining the largest increases in giving were the arts, environmental, and animal related causes

You can access more information on America’s giving patterns by visiting

My takeaway from the statistics is this: As always, it is the failure to ask, and to ask in a compelling, strategic way that affects giving, not the state of the economy. Who will you ask for a serious financial commitment today?

Category: NCDS Blog

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“Birmingham Landmarks, Inc. certainly made the right decision in selecting NCDS to raise the $7 million needed to fully restore our sadly dilapidated and abandoned former vaudeville theatre in downtown Birmingham.  Your firm provided the wisdom and experience to position the project as worthy of support, then structured a winning campaign that was creative, energizing, and relentless in pursuit of the goal.  We were especially appreciative of your flexibility relative to our early cash flow issues, and even more so in the selection of the assigned NCDS Project Executive.  Because of the success and momentum of your phase of this exceptional campaign, the Lyric staff was able to continue seeking commitments utilizing tax credits, and the total raised now exceeds $11.8 million.  Thanks to NCDS, Birmingham can boast of having one of the most spectacularly restored performing arts theaters in America.”

Brant Beene, Executive Director • Birmingham Landmarks, Inc.

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