How Much Is That Donation In Relative Terms

We hear it all the time: the donor community is feeling tapped out and there just isn’t any more to give. While that may be subjective, it doesn’t mean we can’t quantify the relative value of large donor gifts in a way everyone else can connect with.

Adaptistration People 040To that end, the Washington Post published an article on 1/30/2020 that examined the relative value of the $11 million Super Bowl ad presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg purchased.

Bloomberg’s $11 million dollar ad would only be like someone with a $200,000 net worth spending $36.

Let that sink in a bit.

WaPO’s eye-opening wealth comparison tool can be applied just as easily to nonprofit donations.

The New York Philharmonic’s largest individual donation is in the $25 million ballpark. For someone with a net worth like Bloomberg, a $25 million gift to the NY Phil would feel like spending $50 to someone with a net worth of $200,000.

Even David Geffen’s $100 million gift to Lincoln Center for naming rights to the NYPhil’s concert hall would feel like $2,200 to someone with a $200,000 net worth.

Granted, this exercise isn’t meant to marginalize what large donors contribute to the arts. Quite the opposite; without their support, arts and culture as we know it wouldn’t exist. And I don’t know a single stakeholder that doesn’t appreciate their generosity.

Instead, it’s meant to help visualize a broader context in response to assertions that there simply isn’t enough money left in the donor class to support arts and culture.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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