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The land of $10,000 gifts: smaller cities with open wallets and bigger hearts.

When you think titans of the financial world, where cigars are lighted with $100 bills, you think New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and other major metropolitan cities.

But, the largest individual contribution ever--estimated at more than $30 billion depending on stock values when sold--came from a guy in Omaha. Okay, so the guy was Warren Buffet, the so-called "Oracle of Omaha"

The truth is that there are pockets of wealth in every ZIP code, not just 90210. That wealth can be found in places like Providence, Rhode Island, considered by some to be a stepchild of Boston. It can be found in Des Moines, Iowa, even when it isn't primary season.

The NonProfit Times teamed with searchable database company, Noza Inc. of Santa Barbara, Calif., to examine U.S. cities that would make Willie Sutton drool--places where the money is, to paraphrase the infamous bank robber when asked why he hit banks. The search looked for donations to nonprofits of $10,000 or more by ZIP code.

Noza's database is generated from numerous public sources, including nonprofits posting a donor list on the Web without a password being needed, whether it's annual reports, newsletters, campaign reports, thank-you notes, minutes or press releases.

The firm is adding about 1 million records a month from various sources on Web, to the already 19 million records dating to 1994. Sources must be posted by the nonprofit and no third-party sources are used.

Universities and their foundations can dominate the data, both for their Web-saavy in posting information online, as well as their large and loyal donor base. It's why the likes of Gainesville, Fla., East Lansing, Mich., and Madison, Wise., rank alongside larger metropolitan cities, such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia, despite vastly fewer organizations in the database.

It's important to look at the number of organizations in the database for a particular city because "that speaks to the breadth of nonprofits in a city," said Noza founder and CEO Craig Harris.

"It appears as if more and more nonprofits are putting their donor lists online. which makes sense," Harris said, as an annual report that costs $3 or $4 per copy to produce for 200,000 constituents would get pricey. Some of it is also just a matter of nonprofits being more advanced, creating Web sites with more depth, he said.

Here are five cities to think long and hard about mining for donors.

Des Moines


Pop. 194,000

Des Moines? Yes, Des Moines. There were 1,033 donations of $10,000 or more, almost all to local organizations, according to Noza's database. The figure might not compare with New York City's 58,000-plus gifts, but it puts Des Moines in the same company as tony Princeton, N.J., and California's state capital, Sacramento.

"Des Moines and Iowa benefit from a generous and active philanthropic community," said Donovan Honnold, vice president, marketing and public relations, at the United Way of Central Iowa (UWCI), one of 32 chapters in the state.

UWCI, which serves a three-county area of about 450,000 people that includes metropolitan Des Moines, has 235 Tocqueville Society members, the largest membership in the country, for cities of less than 500,O00. Tocqueville Society members contribute $10,000 annually to the United Way chapter. Last year, UWCI raised a record $22.2 million, Honnold said, ranking fifth nationally in percapita United Way giving and has had the fastest growing campaign in the country during the past five years. It accounts for almost half of the approximately $50 million raised each year by Iowa's 32 United Way chapters.

Since its inception in 1993, the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation has raised more than $60 million during major capital campaigns for renovating and preserving the historic state fairgrounds.

Dubbed "Hartford of the West" for its insurance and financial services industry, Des Moines is home to the Principal Financial Group and Wells Fargo, as well as Drake University.



Pop. 197,000

If hospitals and institutes of higher education are the sector's fundraising juggernauts, then Providence's cup hath runneth over. Squeezed within its 20 square miles are five universities and three hospitals. Data revealed more than 5,100 gifts of $10,000 or more within the city limits. The Rhode Island Foundation has seen significant jumps in giving the past three years after many years of steady increases, according to Carol Golden, executive vice president and chief philanthropy officer. The foundation went from seeing new gifts on an annual basis of $12 million to $15 million to approximately $31 million in 2006, she said. She attributed the boost to greater visibility and marketing to prospective donors. The foundation receives between 50 and 100 gifts of $10,000 or more each year, Golden said.

Carissa Hill, vice president and managing director of the annual campaign for United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI), estimates between 200 and 220 individual donors each year in its Tocqueville Society, placing the chapter in the top tier among the 1,300 local United Ways nationwide. The only United Way in Rhode Island, UWRI has an annual campaign of an estimated $17 million.

There are workplace campaigns from Newport to Woonsocket and every place in between, but like a drain that's been uncorked, funds from around the state flow into Providence, the headquarters for many nonprofits, whether stand-alones or affiliates of national organizations.

The demographics of The Ocean State's largest city also might factor into its giving and the number of nonprofits there. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the poverty rate in Providence was among the 10 highest for cities with populations greater than 100,000. Poverty might beget more nonprofit organizations--potential recipients of gifts--to serve the poor population.



Pop. 331,000

One might remember Dr. Johnny Fever or Venus Flytrap for "living on the air in Cincinnati" at the fictional WKRP radio station. But others--namely business publications like Fortune and Forbes--routinely cite Cincinnati for its thriving corporate environment.

The home to GE Aviation, Proctor & Gamble, and several other major corporations and banks, Cincinnati also has the nation's oldest united arts fund, the Fine Arts Fund, supporting 17 organizations. With those corporations come active employee giving programs, along with a vibrant and mature arts scene, that could be the answers behind Cincinnati's 4,460 donations of $10,000 or more.

"Greater Cincinnati has a good record of giving at the $10,000 level and above because of a strong corporate culture at the Fortune 500 firms which encourages personal 'stretch' gifts by employees/managers," said Donna Coleman, president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Greater Cincinnati. "We are an 'old' city with a strong history of giving," she said.

"There is a sense that the arts have had a unique role in defining Cincinnati," said Mary McCullough-Hudson, president and CEO of the Fine Arts Fund. "I do think we have a particular strength in our arts community, both in the history and the size and variety of organizations we have."

More than half of the Fine Arts Fund dollars ($11.6 million in 2006) are raised through employee campaigns and almost a third from corporations. The average employee gift to the fund is $181 and the average corporate gift is more than $10,000. The fund has 18 members and an additional 60 to 70 nonprofits participate in a competitive grant program.

With large endowments, universities and hospitals have a big impact on the data. In Cincinnati's case, it might help with two major universities--the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University--as well as the Cincinnati Children's Hospital.



Pop. 193,000

It's clear that being the home for major universities, hospitals and museums and arts centers will boost a city's philanthropic bottom line. And having one of the nation's largest charitable organizations headquartered within the city limits can't hurt either. Christian Children's Fund, which raised nearly $200 million in 2005 and was No. 68 on last year's NPT 100, is based in Richmond. In addition, three universities are located in the city--Virginia Commonwealth University (along with its Massey Cancer Center), Virginia Union University and the University of Richmond. The NPT 100 is the annual listing in The NonProfit Times of organizations that generate at least 10 percent of income from public sources.

The Virginia Performing Arts Foundation raises money for the renovation and management of a performing arts complex in Richmond that is to include three historic theatres. Katie Fupranowitz, development coordinator for the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation, described the region as a reasonably affluent area. "There's a lot of old money here."

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) recently completed a seven-year, $172.3-million capital campaign, primarily for expansion, but with a significant endowment component as well, according to Peter Wagner, vice president for development. He estimated the capital campaign received more than 200 gifts of $25,000 or more.

As a state institution, VMFA receives support from the state of Virginia, including $49 million for the capital campaign and maybe 45 percent of its annual budget. "It is a true public-private partnership in that respect," Wagner said, with the rest of the budget coming from private support and annual funds for endowments.

"Given its size, Richmond is somewhat unique in its cultural offerings," Wagner said. "It's probably broader than most cities its size. The museum is definitely larger than most towns the size of Richmond."

The United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg serves the cities of Richmond and Petersburg and nine surrounding counties for a total population of just more than one million. With more than 60,000 donors, the chapter raised just over $20 million in the 2006 campaign, according to Jennifer Fletcher, director of marketing and communications. Richmond's Tocqueville Society is ranked 35 out of the 1,300 local United Ways in terms of total number of members, with 215 giving $3.5 million in the campaign, roughly 17 percent of campaign dollars.

Overall, Richmond tallied nearly 3,000 gifts of $10,000 or more to all organizations, culled from 53 organizations within the database.



Pop. 178,000

Any discussion on the philanthropic scene in Utah as a whole, or Salt Lake City in particular, has to acknowledge the presence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Jeff Driggs, director of development at the University of Utah College of Science and president of the Utah Society of Fund Raisers, which has about 400 members representing more than 200 charitable organizations. The church asks members, who make up about 70 percent of the state's population and about half of Salt Lake's population, to donate 10 percent of income to the church, as well as other contributions to local congregations, he said. In addition to those gifts, LDS Philanthropies raises money for the church's schools--the most prominent being Brigham Young University--as well as funds for disaster relief and scholarships for students in developing countries.

As Providence is to Rhode Island, Salt Lake City is to Utah, in that many of the state's major nonprofits or national chapters and affiliates of national organizations likely are found there, such as the American Red Cross,American Heart Association, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Nature Conservancy.

Host of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the city also is home to the University of Utah, which has the region's only medical school and oversees a system of local clinics. On campus, but not a part of the university, is Primary Children's Medical Center. The Intermountain Healthcare hospital system also is headquartered in Salt Lake City. The university system accounted for a number of the 6,492 gifts of $10,000 or more, among 43 organizations.

So while a big metropolis might have a size advantage compared to smaller cities, the next time you read about those financial titans and their cigars, the view from their offices might not be Manhattan or Capitol Hill. They could very well be looking out over the Wasatch Mountains toward the Great Salt Lake.
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Author:Hrywna, Mark
Publication:The Non-profit Times
Date:Mar 15, 2007
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