Tag Archives: funding

Artists truly for the arts

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne helped launch the annual Artists for The Arts concert in Santa Monica 10 years ago, and a decade later he’s still volunteering his time to support arts education.

Last month I attended a Jackson Browne concert in Santa Monica. As great as Jackson Browne is, that may not sound remarkable on its face, even when I add that another 1970s icon, Gary Wright, was also on the bill, and the “house band,” Venice, is a highly accomplished group with numerous albums and world tours to their credit.

No, what made this evening an indelible memory for the packed house who saw the show was the fact that these stars shared the stage with high school students, and those students delivered some knockout performances on par with any pro. Continue reading

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Planting A Tree of Life in The Galilee

“It takes a noble man to plant a seed for a tree that will some day give shade to people he may never meet.” – Dr. David Trueblood 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a ceremony placing the cornerstone for the permanent Medical School campus, November 2012.

In fundraising, sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes we get to work on a fundraising campaign that means even more than the buildings it funds, the programs it underwrites, or the students it helps. And sometimes a project presents donors with the rare opportunity to change not only an institution or its constituents, but an entire population and an entire region of the world.

One such example: the Bar-Ilan University School of Medicine in Israel. The University is in the early stages of a $400 million capital campaign to fund construction of a permanent campus for Israel’s first new medical school in nearly 40 years. The campus will be built in the Galilee, in the underdeveloped northern region of Israel, where multiple ethnic populations (both Israeli and Arab) live without access to the same levels of infrastructure, health care, job opportunities, and other assets that exist in the center of the country.

Why does this matter? Several reasons, and they stretch well beyond the impact the medical school will have on the University and its students. Continue reading

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The Alexia Foundation supports photographers as agents for change

The most important issues of our time – the most important events in history – many of us can recall the photographs in our heads and the stories that they brought to life.  Pictures can capture our hearts, make us laugh, or provide a glimpse into a sobering reality of human actions and consequences through a language we can all understand. Continue reading

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Major gifts: It’s about relationships

One of the great pleasures in working with nonprofits is being part of the excitement of a monumental announcement. Yesterday one of my clients, the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, announced the largest gift in its 30-year history. A donor bequeathed $4.8 million to the Foundation to assist the 16 public schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District with critical needs in this era of dramatic budget cuts, as well as to establish an endowment in the donor’s name, honoring her parents’ legacy while providing ongoing individualized mentoring in the arts for underprivileged children in these schools.

SMMEFThe magnitude of this gift underscores the fact that donors are out there. They may not be well-known. They may not even be alumni of the schools they choose to support. But they are out there. It’s all about building relationships. Continue reading

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Philanthropy Doesn’t Fund The Status Quo

I was at a dinner recently with a group of educators and administrators – high school principals, school district superintendents, a college dean – and the discussion, as one might expect, veered into the tremendous challenges facing public school districts in the current budget climate in California.  While we all lamented the fact that in public education all are being forced to do more with less – less staff, less resources, more demands – there are no easy solutions to this dilemma.

As the old saying goes, challenges present opportunities. As we sat around the table, the discussion started to focus on how schools and districts might work together, on how higher education and K-12 districts in the same area could partner to sustain programs, provide vital services to students and teachers both, perhaps even seek external funding for such ideas.

As the discussion turned to fundraising, the first comments focused on the need for private funding just to sustain what schools are already doing. There was disappointment in the fact that corporate partners and philanthropic foundations did not seem to have interest in contributing funds to the region despite doing so in other regions. And there were no clear answers as to how or why this “oversight” was occurring. Continue reading

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New Problems Require Entrepreneurial Thinking

For the past few years, California Community Colleges (and public higher education in general) have been through the budgetary wringer. Year after year, budget cuts continually compromise both the quality of the education and the quantity of classes provided and students served. It’s no wonder, then, that colleges are becoming more innovative in their approach to conducting the business of educating students.

For a number of community colleges in California, thinking and acting entrepreneurially is becoming an act of necessity. Most colleges or districts have their own independent foundations (with a total of 92 independent community college/district foundations in California at last count), which serve to augment public dollars with privately raised funds. Continue reading


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Enabling Philanthropy

One Saturday last June I asked a class of graduate students what their experiences were with ‘fundraising’, professionally or personally. It was quite a revelation to see their reactions. These were students who all hold down full-time jobs as middle school, high school, community college, or university administrators or teachers, yet almost without exception their experiences with fundraising were limited to their children’s annual candy or magazine sales, their own similar experiences in their youth, or the calls they receive from professional solicitation firms on behalf of one charitable cause or another. And they were negative.

Enabling philanthropyThis points to two phenomena that impact the success of educational institutions in their fundraising efforts.

First, the negative perceptions people often have of professional fundraisers are due in large part to their own negative experiences. They recall those harassing phone calls at dinner time from some phone bank in a faraway place asking for support for a cause that ultimately will receive only pennies from each dollar donated due to the extremely high overhead these firms charge. They think of the sales quotas their children have been given for the annual ‘fundraiser’ to pay for a class trip or school supplies. They don’t necessarily think of philanthropy in the sense of contributing to the public good. Continue reading

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