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.
To 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.