Who donated the major gift? The answer is important

Many nonprofit institutions depend on major gifts from government sources.
Date Published
04/01/2014

The nation’s research institutions are largely dependent on major gifts from the government as well as private donors. An editorial piece for The New York Times recently looked at the efforts of the wealthiest individuals in the U.S. and compared their contributions with those of the government.

According to The Times, Bill and Melinda Gates joined with Warren Buffet to start The Giving Pledge, which asked individuals with substantial sums of money to donate a portion to charity. Currently, one-fifth of the nation’s 500 billionaires have promised to participate in the campaign. Of those, 40 people indicated they’ll likely be a part of fundraising for scientific research, including health and environmental studies. Were each of these donors to give every last dollar, it would amount to about $250 billion, The Times wrote. This is equivalent to just two years of the government’s budget for funding in research fields.

The Nonprofit Quarterly emphasized the idea that the money these major donors provide would go to better use for public awareness or marketing campaigns that would draw people’s attention to the need for government funding for research and development. In other words, different sources of fundraising revenue serve distinct purpose and aren’t interchangeable.

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