“Nonprofits appeal for private funding; Groups gently tap individuals to fill gap left by shrinking public funds.” By Patrick Wall. Crain’s New York Business. December 12, 2011. This fall, for the first time, the Food Bank For New York City blanketed subways with ads to attract new donors. In an attempt to illustrate the impact of even a small donation—while serving up a healthy dose of guilt—one ad points out that for the cost of a $5 latte, the Food Bank could fill 25 children’s lunch boxes. The ad campaign is the outgrowth of a new reality at the Food Bank, which has long relied on government support to operate. Now, with government contributions on a downward spiral, the organization has had to flip its funding model to one that relies on private gifts to provide its largest slice of revenue. “As we’ve seen that the government piece is at risk and declining, we’re working very hard to increase and build up relations with private donors,” said Alyssa Herman, vice president of fund development for the Food Bank. In the fiscal year ended June 30, corporations, foundations and individuals gave the Food Bank nearly $15 million, while the government contributed $18 million. In the current year, however, the nonprofit expects to take in more than $17 million from private donors, versus $15.4 million from the government. The Food Bank is not alone. Human services charities across the city are being forced to reinvent their fundraising strategies, demand more from their boards, and learn how to appeal to individual donors—who account for the vast majority of private giving—if they want to survive. The shift comes at a time when demand for services has reached an all-time high and many individual donors are finding that they have less to give.
“An Outpouring of Support for Clean Water.” By Valentine Uhovski. Wall Street Journal. December 14, 2011. The organizers of the sixth annual “charity: water” fund-raising ball had an atypical dilemma: too many interested ticket buyers. The line outside of the Lexington Avenue Armory stretched for nearly a block. Nearly 2,200 guests who shelled out $300 (or more) to get in waited even longer at the coat checks and for wine. More than $2.7 million was raised in a single evening for the water initiatives in developing nations—an extraordinary figure considering that no mignon dinner was served, no glitzy fashion sponsor was involved, and Lady Gaga or Prince didn’t hit the stage.
“A Night at the Opera Benefit.” By Marshall Heyman. Wall Street Journal. December 14, 2011. It takes a lot of dough—and probably, even, a village—to get an opera off the ground. That’s why composer Paola Prestini held a small get together slash fund-raiser at the Ethan Cohen Fine Arts space in TriBeCa in support of her in-progress composition, “Oceanic Verses. “Performances of the multimedia opera, which is based in Italy and explores the lives of a sailor, a mother, a scholar and a soldier, are slated to begin in Massachusetts in May, with a stop in Manhattan in June. Ms. Prestini, a 36-year-old Italian composer who splits her time between the Upper West Side and San Francisco, said she needed $60,000 to pay for the production, and was hoping to raise $25,000 of that from the evening at Mr. Cohen’s gallery. The event included a performance by Phillip Glass, a friend and mentor of Ms. Prestini, as well as an excerpt from “Oceanic Verses” by Helga Davis. The crowd included composers, musicians and artists, including Heidi Rodewald, Mickey Strauss, Diane Volk and the Klezmer clarinetist David Kracauer. Hanging at the gallery were works by the American artist Ali Hossaini, including video segments and 3-D photographs. Mr. Hossaini and Mr. Cohen said that 3-D glasses weren’t imperative to enjoying the show, but they helped. Mr. Hossaini is also contributing visuals to Ms. Prestini’s opera though he hadn’t decided yet if they should be in 3-D. Should he decide that they are, Ms. Prestini believed that hers would be the first opera that incorporated said technology.
“Friends Toast a Center.” By Mike Vilensky. Wall Street Journal. December 14, 2011. On the top floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Monday evening, the six-month-old Dubin Breast Center of the Tisch Cancer Institute held its inaugural benefit, with champagne toasts and violin performances. The comprehensive medical facility, at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, focuses on breast health and cancer treatment. “I never had a bar mitzvah,” said Eva Dubin, the physician, philanthropist and former “Miss Sweden” who founded the Dubin Center. “So all of my friends are coming out now.” Among those friends were hedge funder Paul Tudor Jones II, music industry bigwig Tommy Mottola, the actor Michael J. Fox, and, of course, Ms. Dubin’s husband, Glenn Dubin, the philanthropist and founder of Highbridge Capital Management LLC. The crowd of more than 450 helped raise more than $1 million for the center, which has treated over 9,000 patients so far. Ms. Dubin said she was inspired to create the 15,000-square-foot facility, which she conceived of eight years ago, because she felt she was in a unique position as a doctor, donor and breast-cancer survivor. “I love being able to help women, and I’m planning to stay involved as long as I’m here,” she said.
“In a Time of Giving, Learning When to Say No.” By Paul Sullivan. New York Times. December 16, 2011. This is the time of year when you are asked for all sorts of donations. I always find the process moderately stressful, but not because my wife and I are agonizing over how much to give. There are plenty of guides that tell you what to give to your mail carrier (not allowed to accept cash, and noncash gifts cannot exceed $20), your babysitter (one to two weeks’ pay) and your doorman, if you live in an apartment building ($75 and up, but make sure it’s not less than last year). My daughter just started preschool this year, so we have a whole new category on our list, and it includes items like gifts for teachers and meeting a request for the school’s annual fund. But that was easy to solve. We just asked other parents what they gave. But because these are not ordinary economic times, and a lot of people are unemployed or underemployed, some of the requests for money this year don’t fit into a neat mathematical calculation. Should you respond with a gift? And how do you figure out the appropriate amount? I thought it worthwhile to ask other people how they were handling this. I also wanted to quiz experts on the ethics and etiquette of giving. Here’s what I learned.