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Better to give ...: more than 1,000 professional fund-raisers battle recession, tight pockets in Arkansas.

It is not the best time to be a fund-raiser.

The United Way of America, one of the nation's best-known charities, is plagued with scandal.

A two-year recession has taken a bite out of corporate contributions.

In Arkansas, Gov. Bill Clinton's presidential campaign has drained dollars usually earmarked for other purposes.

Yet there are more than 1,000 professional fund-raisers in the state, at least 800 of whom work in central Arkansas. Next month, Nonprofit Resources Inc. of Little Rock will sponsor a fund-raising school targeted toward community-based, non-profit organizations.

Even though Arkansas fund-raisers are dealing with bad press, recession and the Clinton factor, they say they're still raising about as much money as they have in the past.

"There is a certain pool of disposable income," says Charlotte Gadberry, executive director of the St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center Development Foundation and immediate past president of the Arkansas chapter of the National Society of Fund-Raising Executives. "If something takes a large cut out of the pie, there is an effect."

Just how much is uncertain.

Deborah Buford, executive director of Nonprofit Resources, says the recession probably has a larger impact on corporate contributions than on individual contributions. Individuals who have given to charities in the past will continue to do so, she says.

According to the publication Giving USA, corporate giving has slowed since a peak in 1986. That year, companies gave $5.2 billion. With inflation factored in, corporate philanthropy has decreased annually since then.

Chase Manhattan Corp. cut its 1991 charitable gifts budget by one-third to $7.6 million.

Ford Motor Co. cut $5 million from its charitable budget.

That is the trend everywhere.

"Those seeking corporate gifts may be hit harder," Buford says.

Individual Gifts

Katherine Bullard, development director for Youth Home Inc. of Little Rock, recently attended a convention at San Francisco. She was surprised to discover that many California-based development offices did not have the money to attend the convention.

"I guess the West Coast felt the recession later than the rest of us," says Bullard, formerly with the Arkansas Children's Hospital Foundation. "But the point is, it has hit everyone.

"Corporation giving has flattened out. Corporations are inundated with requests. How do you determine whom you give to?"

Still, Bullard says more money has been raised this year than at the same time last year by Youth Home.

The reason?

Individual giving.

Professional fund-raisers and volunteer fund-raisers agree that individual gifts carry the load for most organizations.

Vernon Deas, development director at Lions World Services for the Blind in Little Rock, notes last year's numbers. Of $114 billion donated nationally, 88 percent was given by individuals.

"A significant number give from their non-disposable income," Deas says.

Giving USA reports that low-income Americans make greater sacrifices than the rich when it comes to philanthropic causes. A 1990 study revealed that households with earnings of less than $10,000 annually gave 5.5 percent of their income to charity. Americans earning more than $100,000 annually gave less than 3 percent of their income.

That trend holds true for Arkansas, fund-raisers say.

"People are surprised to learn that most of the money given is by people at the lower end of the spectrum," Buford says.

Back To School

Buford has been involved with non-profit work for more than 15 years. Since 1989, she has overseen Nonprofit Resources, which serves as a management training and consulting service for non-profit organizations statewide.

Nonprofit Resources publishes two newsletters, operates the Arkansas Nonprofit Management Institute and is developing a data base of all non-profit organizations in Arkansas. There already are almost 3,300 such organizations listed in the Nonprofit Resources computer.

Nonprofit Resources is funded by -- what else? -- donations and support from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

Its upcoming school, scheduled for July 15-17 at Little Rock, is free for the 20 participants. The participants were selected by an advisory committee.

There are two participants each from nine state regions. The other two participants were selected at large.

Participants are required to conduct their own fund-raising workshops upon returning home.

"We're trying to make sure non-profits have the skills to raise money," Buford says. "Fund raising is not synonymous with grant writing. In rural areas, some think the only way to raise funds is through grants.

"... The school is a deliberate, structured attempt to get fund-raising skills disseminated across the state."

Topics such as the fund-raising cycle (fall is best), the role of the board in fund raising, soliciting major gifts, corporate and foundation solicitations and the fund-raising environment will be discussed.

That last one is tricky.

Especially in Arkansas.

Especially this year.

"The economy is not that great," Buford says. "And this is an unusual situation in that we have the governor running for president. Special-event planners should pay close attention to when the election is."

The climate is not scaring off potential professional fund-raisers.

The Arkansas chapter of NSFRE will offer a fund-raising course through the University of Arkansas at Little Rock next spring.

The chapter awards three scholarships annually and hosts two major events, a National Philanthropy Day state awards banquet each fall and a fund-raising day for members and non-members each spring.

"Every time something occurs, such as a newscast |reporting on~ someone being cheated by fund-raisers, it hurts our profession," Gadberry says. "That's why we try to abide by standards at the NSFRE."

Nan Selz Brown, president of the Arkansas chapter of the Arthritis Foundation and current president of NSFRE's Arkansas chapter, says members adhere to a strict code.

"There are do's and don't's," she says.

For instance, a professional fund-raiser may not ask for a percentage of what is raised.

The primary concern, other than the charity, should be the donor, Deas says.

"You know what the highest motivation is for someone to give?" he asks. "It's the right person asking."
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Article Details
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Author:Webb, Kane
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jun 29, 1992
Previous Article:United we stand: United Way officials attempt to ride out a nationwide scandal.
Next Article:Giving back: corporations continue altruism despite lean times.

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