That’s a complex question, of course.  The answer depends on many variables – the size and nature of the association constituency, the existing culture of philanthropy, the leadership giving potential of the organization’s governance, the strength of the organization’s communications channels and, indeed, the appeal and scope of the institutional vision and the existence of tangible, compelling opportunities for donors to make a difference.

There is no easy answer to this crystal ball – except perhaps to say that, properly supported, any investment in philanthropy is likely to bring a positive return — and potentially a surprisingly large one.  We believe that many if not most association foundations are falling far short of their fundraising capacity.  Of course, while “your mileage may vary” disclaimers apply, these examples of big payoffs from our experience should tantalize any leader to find out more about their own organization’s potential:

  • Society of Petroleum Engineers Foundation (Richardson, Texas) planned, initiated and successfully concluded a $5 million campaign to enhance spe.org, its website to serve its 158,000 global members and the worldwide oil-and-gas community. SPE’s campaign concluded by raising $7 million, and in so doing significantly enhanced member engagement.
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (Rosemont, IL) secured $10 million in philanthropic support with its “Building Orthopaedics” capital campaign for a state-of-the-art Orthopaedic Learning Center and offices for AAOS and 25 affiliated orthopaedic specialty organizations.

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