Kidznotes growing in Wake, considers expansion

[Note: This was written for The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.]

DURHAM, N.C. — Kidznotes, a Durham nonprofit that uses orchestral training to prepare underserved students to succeed in school and life, will continue its expansion into economically-distressed Southeast Raleigh and is considering future growth in other parts of the Triangle, thanks in part to a $25,000 grant from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation in Durham.

Formed in 2010, Kidznotes will serve 300 students in Durham and 150 in Wake County this school year, up from a total of 330 last year. It plans to add another 35 Raleigh students this year and grow to a total of 1,000 students in the Triangle by 2020.

And it is considering expanding to new areas in the 2017-18 school year.

Kidznotes was inspired by El Sistema, an effort that began in 1975 in the slums of Caracas, Venezuela, and now reaches millions of students throughout the world, including hundreds of thousands of students in Venezuela and 30,000 in 120 communities in the U.S.

The Durham nonprofit partners with public schools in which over 80 percent of students qualify for lunch that is free or at a reduced price.

“Our kids face significant stress at home, in school and in their communities as a result of poverty,” says Katie Wyatt, executive director and co-founder of Kidznotes. “Now, they are on track for good grades, good retention, low suspension rates and low detention rates, and will be at the top of school in high school and beyond.”

Mimi O’Brien, executive director of the Biddle Foundation, says Kidznotes “demonstrates the foundation’s long-held conviction that the arts can be a vehicle for social change. We are enthusiastic about making this empowering opportunity available to more children.” This grant is made as part of the foundation’s celebration of its 60th anniversary.

Making music

Co-founded by Durham philanthropist Lucia Powe, Kidznotes operates with an annual budget of $1 million, and a staff of 10 people working full-time and part-time, plus about 40 teaching artists.

In partnership with five elementary schools each in Durham and Raleigh, and a middle school in Durham, it immerses students in music instruction after school, and on Saturdays it assembles all the students in each community for orchestra or band rehearsals, along with choir rehearsals.

All Kidznotes students learn violin in kindergarten, with kindergarteners and first-graders spending a total of six hours a week after school and Saturdays on the program, and older students spending at least 10 hours a week.

Starting in first or second grade, students join either a band or orchestra, and all students also participate in a choir starting in kindergarten.

“Knowing how to sing makes the best musicians,” says Wyatt, a violist who played with the New World Symphony in Miami for two-and-a-half years, and served as director of education for the North Carolina Symphony. “You have to have an internal sense of pulse and pitch.”

Kidznotes provides instructors for all instruments, and each school provides a music teacher for team-teaching after school, and for orchestra or band instruction one Saturday a month.

Kidznotes also provides all instruments and the curriculum, while the participating schools pay for the music teacher and provide rent-free space, a snack, and a bus after school to take students from their schools to the Kidznotes home base, known as a “nucleo.”

Music to thrive

Students who participate in Kidznotes do better in school and are prepared to succeed in life and work, Wyatt says, because learning an instrument and performing in an orchestra stimulate brain development.

Those activities also lead to increased executive functioning skills; greater academic achievement and language comprehension; improved social skills; advanced character development; more nimble physical coordination; greater self-confidence; and the critical skills of problem-solving, self-discipline and teamwork.

“As you learn new skills and create new sounds and advance on your instrument, your brain improves in the way it works,” Wyatt says. “El Sistema uses the orchestra and assembling a mini-society to create a model of living and of human effort that is really about every single person mastering their part and blending it to create something of great beauty that is bigger than just yourself.”

Partners in music

In addition to public schools, key partners of Kidznotes are other schools, professional arts organizations and parents.

Serving as volunteer mentors to Kidznotes students, for example, are students and teachers from the North Carolina School of  Science and Math, Durham School of the Arts, Durham Academy, and East Chapel Hill High School, among others.

Guest artists from professional organizations like the North Carolina Symphony, North Carolina Opera and Duke Performances, among others, work with Kidznotes students, who also are invited to attend their performances for free.

And parents of Kidznotes students are encouraged to attend all performances. Kidznotes students perform at least six times a year, typically 10 to 12 times, and as many as 25 times for the most advanced students.

Last year, for example, they performed at the Raleigh Convention Center for the annual Spree of the Junior League of Raleigh; at a Sunday morning service at Christ Church in Raleigh; and in the Red Hat Amphitheater for the annual Band Together concert culminating a year-long partnership that raised $1 million, including $850,000 for Kidznotes.

Wyatt also is executive director of El Sistema USA, which in July announced a partnership in which Duke University will incubate an effort to provide professional development opportunities to program directors for organizations like Kidznotes that are members of the national organization.

Music impact

The schools Kidznotes partners with serve some of the Triangle’s most underserved communities. Unemployment in Southeast Raleigh totals 12.2 percent, eight percentage points higher than Wake County overall, for example, while the median income in the region totals $28,370, roughly $35,000 below the Wake County average.

“Children from the neighborhoods we serve confront unfortunate, poverty-based reality even before they arrive at the schoolhouse door,” Wyatt says. “The Kidznotes and El Sistema philosophy is designed systematically to build a wellspring of positivity, joy and healing, and drive, and also a lot of hard work in a highly creative environment to work hand-in-hand with families to overcome the deficits of poverty.”

Museum helping more at-risk students learn through art

[Note: This was written for The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.]

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — More underserved children in Asheville, Buncombe County and three rural counties in Western North Carolina will have access to arts education and activities through a $25,000 grant to the Asheville Art Museum to build partnerships with local schools and parks-and-recreation centers.

The funds, from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation in Durham, will help the Museum provide nearly 10,000 hours of visual-arts programming to 950 students in kindergarten through fifth grade in McDowell, Henderson and Madison counties.

During the course of a year, the Museum will offer to 1,200 pre-school children and their caregivers in Asheville and Buncombe County a weekly program it has piloted on a monthly basis since 2012.

“The arts are an essential component in developing critical thinking skills that lead to success, yet over the past 20 years there has been a steady decline in funding for the arts,” says Pamela L. Myers, the Museum’s executive director. “We partner with schools throughout the region to ensure that the diverse population of students have full access to art and education, and to programs that allow for students with different learning styles to excel in the arts and in their academic studies.”

Mimi O’Brien, executive director of the Biddle Foundation, says the Museum’s expansion of its programs will provide new opportunities for underserved students and preschoolers to thrive.

“The arts are a powerful, inspiring tool that helps children and adults alike learn, grow and connect with the people and places in their lives,” she says.

The Foundation made the grant as part of the celebration of its 60th anniversary.

Arts and education

Established by artists in 1948, the Asheville Art Museum is the only accredited visual arts institution serving all 24 counties in Western North Carolina, a region of over 1.2 million residents and some of the most underserved and low-wealth school districts in the state.

For school districts in the region, particularly in the face of increasingly tight budgets for education, access to educational innovation and auxiliary services such as arts education is limited.

“They are places in which teachers and school administrators struggle to provide enrichment to the diversity of their students,” Myers says.

To help fill that gap, the Museum serves as the arts education partner of schools.

‘Literacy Through Art’

In 1994, the Museum launched its Literacy Through Art program, a partnership with school districts to boost student literacy by integrating the arts with learning. Yet with the steady decline in public support for enrichment programs beyond the traditional curriculum of reading, writing and math, the Museum has been providing a growing share of resources for the program.

With the involvement of principals and classroom teachers, the Museum provides nine lessons of 60 minutes each in participating schools. Leading the classroom lessons, which meet state goals and objectives in language arts and visual arts, are artist-educators.

The 10th and final lesson includes a visit to the Museum — with some schools providing transportation — for a gallery tour and hands-on studio activity.

And by collaborating with the artist-educators, participating classroom teachers can build their skills to incorporate art into their classroom activities.

An evaluation of the program by a researcher at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching suggested that students benefit academically from the program because it addresses multiple learning styles to build visual and language art skills.

In McDowell, Henderson and Madison counties, which will get the program as a result of the Biddle Foundation grant, the poverty rate is above 17.2 percent. And the percentage of students who get lunch that is free or at a reduced price totals over 63 percent in Madison and McDowell counties, and 54 percent in Henderson County.

Without the Museum program, and in the wake of budget cuts and limited resources for many school districts, visual arts would not be part of the curriculum for most students in those counties. Madison County, which was part of the program when it was launched in 1994, has not participated since 2004 because of budget cuts.

‘Tot Time’

Four years ago, the Museum began piloting its Tot Time program, which features guided art activities for pre-school children and their caregivers. Offered once a month at the Museum, each session focuses on a different topic or theme.

The program uses a range of art activities to improve motor skills, language development and visual learning, while fostering interest in the arts and providing socialization for preschoolers and their caregivers.

Now, through the Biddle Foundation grant, the Museum will conduct five Tot Time programs a month for a year for a total of 60 visits to public libraries and parks-and-recreation centers that will reach 1,200 pre-school children and their caregivers from diverse and disadvantaged populations in Asheville and Buncombe County. One location will be Stephens-Lee recreation center, located in one of the city’s historically African-American communities.

Museum expansion

To better serve underserved, rural and low-wealth students throughout Western North Carolina through outreach activities, on-site programs and teacher-training opportunities, the Museum is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise $24 million to renovate and expand its facilities, including doubling its education spaces.

With funds from the campaign, which already has raised $18.5 million, the Museum will have over twice the amount of studio classroom space, divided into two classrooms and accommodating larger class sizes and school groups, as well as multiple programs for different audiences at the same time.

By expanding its Literacy Through Art and Tot Time programs during the renovation and expansion of its facilities, the Museum can “learn from the diversity of our communities what our partnerships should look like going forward for the next generation,” Myers says.

A key question is “how can the Museum best serve this diversity of communities,” she says. “The Museum doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all solution.”

The arts “spread everyone’s wings and open up a universe of inspiration, innovation and creativity that can affect every aspect of one’s life,” she says. “They provide a whole other way of opening up dialogue and discourse among people and individuals who interact with the creativity found in the arts.”

Arts momentum in Durham grows with arts directory, artist grants

[Note: This was written for The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.]

DURHAM, N.C. — An online arts directory and continued investment in career development for emerging artists are the focus of a $25,000 grant to the Durham Arts Council that underscores Durham’s growing reputation as a hub for the arts.

With about two-thirds of the funds, from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation in Durham, the Arts Council plans to develop and launch by late next summer an online directory of artists and arts organizations.

The Arts Council will use the remaining funds to support grants it has made each year to local artists since 1984, when it created a grant program for emerging artists that has become a model for counties throughout North Carolina.

“We are working to create opportunity for artists and arts groups to work collaboratively among themselves, to work across sectors, to apply for grants, to be more accessible, and to get the training they need,” says Sherry DeVries, executive director of the Arts Council.

Mimi O’Brien, executive director of the Biddle Foundation, says the Arts Council is “helping to build Durham’s growing brand as a major arts center that attracts and connects artists, arts groups and visitors.”

The arts “inspire, and are helping to transform Durham into a stronger, more vibrant community,” she says.

The Foundation made the grant as part of the celebration of its 60th anniversary.

Arts catalyst

Formed in 1954, the Arts Council operates with an annual budget of $2.7 million, with 31 percent of it through the donation of goods and services, and a staff of 10 people working full-time and two working part-time. It raises about $1.3 million through its annual fund and special projects, with 57 percent of it from local, state and federal government sources.

The Arts Council serves 400,000 visitors and program participants a year, over 1,500 artists, and over 60 arts organizations through arts classes; artist residencies in schools; exhibitions; festivals; grant programs for arts organizations and artists; technical support and training; arts advocacy; creative economy initiatives such as research and development of an arts district; and information services.

Arts directory

Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Durham represent an economic engine: According to the most recent data, from five years ago, the combined economic impact of those organizations totals $125.5 million.

Connecting those organizations with one another, with the artists they depend on, with the public, and with anyone wanting to connect with the arts will be the focus of the new arts business directory that the Arts Council will develop with $17,000 from the Biddle Foundation grant.

Expected to be launched by late summer 2017 with an initial database of 300 artists and 80 arts organizations, the directory will be the only local, non-membership-based, publicly-accessible directory of artists and arts organizations in the Triangle.

The Arts Council has opted to use a database from Artsopolis selected by local arts councils in cities like Charlotte, Memphis, Houston and Fort Lauderdale. It will allow artists and arts groups to create their own profiles and keep them up to date, and for the general public to find them.

The Arts Council plans to promote the directory to the arts community, and provide orientation sessions on how to use it, along with help in uploading profiles. It also plans to promote the directory to the public and to specialized sectors once artists and arts groups have begun to create their profiles.

And the Arts Council will cross-link its directory with durhamculture.com, the arts calendar maintained by the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Emerging artist grants

Every year, based on over 110 applications it receives, the Arts Council awards 15 to 16 grants for mid-career development projects to individual arts in Durham, Chatham, Orange, Granville and Person counties.

Inspired by the late Durham philanthropists James and Mary Semans, founding trustees of the Biddle Foundation and launched in 1984 in partnership with the North Carolina Arts Council and the Foundation, the emerging artists grant program has awarded 500 grants totaling $553,000.

That grant program served as a model for the development of grant programs for local artists by local arts councils throughout the state in partnership with the state Arts Council.

Continuing its long-term support for the Durham emerging artists grant program, the Biddle Foundation this year again is contributing $8,000.

The artist grants represent our “belief and investment in individual artists,” says Margaret DeMott, director of artist services for the Arts Council.

The grants also provide recognition and validation that artists can use to secure other funding, and expand their range of opportunities and their networks of professional connections, she says.

Artists typically use the funds for needs ranging from attending conferences, buying materials and equipment, and conducting research to securing larger studio space, creating new art and increasing their visibility.

Arts capital

Building on its reputation for higher education, medicine and, more recently, food, Durham has long been a magnet for art and artists.

As Durham’s arts community continues to grow, the Arts Council is helping to spearhead initiatives designed to build that community and make it more accessible.

In partnership with Americans for the Arts, for example, it is just beginning a study — conducted every five years — of the local economic impact of the arts.

In cooperation with North Carolina Arts Council and City of Durham, it is working on the creation of an arts-and-entertainment corridor — a $10 million, 10-year initiative known as Durham SmArt — that will run south to north along Blackwell, Corcoran and Foster streets.

To begin to put the project into place, the Durham Arts Council last May was awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Arts Council is focusing “on building the reputation and excitement of Durham as an arts and cultural center,” DeVries says. “It’s our desire to create more recognition and more visibility for the arts sector as a whole.”

Giving in U.S. grows to record-high $373.25 billion

Charitable giving in the U.S. grew to $373.25 billion in 2015, posting an all-time high for the second straight year and growing 4.1 percent in current dollars from 2014 and four percent when adjusted for inflation, a new report says.

Continuing a long-term trend of six decades, living individuals accounted for the biggest share of overall giving, including 71 percent from living individuals and 87 percent from living individuals, bequests and family foundations.

Also continuing a long-term trend, religion received the biggest share of charitable giving, 32 percent, although that share has been declining steadily for decades.

According to a revised estimate, total giving in 2014 totaled $359.04 billion, up 7.8 percent in current dollars and 6.1 percent adjusted for inflation, says Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015.

The report is published by Giving USA Foundation, an initiative of The Giving Institute, and is researched and written by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Sources of giving

Giving by individuals grew 3.8 percent to $264.58 billion, or 3.7 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for two-thirds of the overall increase in total giving.

Giving by foundations grew 6.5 percent to $58.46 billion, or 6.3 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 16 percent of total giving.

Giving through charitable bequests grew 2.1 percent to $31.76 billion, or 1.9 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for nine percent of total giving.

Corporate giving grew 3.9 percent to $18.45 billion, or 3.8 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 5 percent of total giving.

Recipients of giving

Giving to religion grew 2.7 percent to $119.30 billion, or 2.6 percent adjusted for inflation. Its share of total giving, 32 percent, was unchanged from 2014.

Giving to education grew 8.9 percnet to $57.48 billion, or 8.8 percent in adjusted dollars, and accounted for 15 percent of total giving, with giving to higher education accounting for roughly 70 percent of giving to education.

Giving to human services grew 4.2 percent to $45.21 billion, or 4.1 percent adjusted, and accountd for 12 percent of total giving.

Giving to foundations fell 3.8 percent to $42.26 billion, or four percent adjusted, and accounted for 11 percent of total giving.

Giving to health organizations grew 1.3 percent to $29.81 billion, or 1.2 percent adjusted, and accounterd for eight percent total giving.

Giving to public-society benefit organizations grew six percent to $26.95 billion, or 5.9 percent adjusted, and accounted for seven percent of total giving.

Giving to arts, culture and humanities grew seven percent to $17.07 billion, or 6.8 percent adjusted, and accounted for five percent of total giving.

Giving to international affairs grew 17.5 percent to $15.75 billion, or 17.4 percent adjusted, and accounted for four percent of total giving.

Giving to environmental and animal organizations grew 6.2 percent to $10.68 billion, or 6.1 percent adjusted, and accounted for three percent of total giving.

Giving to individuals fell 1.6 percent to $6.56 billion, or 1.8 percent adjusted, and accounted for two percent of total giving, with most of those donations consisting of in-kind gifts of medication to patients in need, made through patient assistance progams of operations foundations at pharmaceutical companies.

Unallocated giving totaled $2.18 billion in 2015, and accounted for one percent of total giving.

Todd Cohen

Research tracks gender differences in giving

Differences in income among women and men shape overall giving by couples, as well as the causes they support, new research says.

An increase in a man’s income, for example, tends to make it more likely a couple will give to religious, youth, international and combined-purpose groups such as United Way, or give larger amounts to those causes, or both, says research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

An increase in a woman’s income makes it more likely a couple will give, and give a larger amount, to charities that provide for basic human needs, the research says.

The research, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, included a review of interdisciplinary literature on women’s giving and philanthropic behavior.

It also included analysis of data from the Philanthropy Panel Study, Bank of America/U.S. Trust Studies of High Net Worth Philanthropy, and Million Dollar List. Among the findings:

Marital status

* Single women are more likely than single men to give, and to give higher dollar amounts.

* Women who are divorced, separated, never married or widowed are more likely to give and to give higher dollar amounts than their male counterparts and among men overall.

* Single women are more likely than single men to give to nearly every charitable sector, except sports and recreation.

* Married couples tend to give more than single households headed by males or females.

* When men marry, they are more likely to give to charity and to give higher amounts.

Charitable decision-making

* Most married couples decide on charitable giving jointly.

* Households in which the male makes decisions on charitable giving make larger donations than couples in which those decisions are made by the female or jointly.

* For couples with one person making decisions on giving, the decision-making spouse is likely to have had more education, while in couples that make those decisions together, both individuals have high educational attainment.

Volunteering and giving circles

* Women are more likely than men to volunteer, and to volunteer more hours, with single women volunteering at nearly twice the rate of single men.

* Women represent the vast majority of participants in giving circles, more than half of giving circles in the U.S. involve only women, and issues that affect women and girls are the priority for many giving circles.

* Less than 10 percent of all foundation funding supports organizations run by and for women and girls.

Selecting charitable causes

* Women tend to spread their giving across more organizations, while men tend to concentrate their giving.

* Among high net worth individuals — those with $250,000 or more in income, or $1 million or more in assets not including their principal residence, or both — single women are more likely than single men to give, and give more to arts and the environment, while high net worth single men are more likely to give, and give more to combination organizations such as United Way.

* “Female-deciding” households are more likely to give to youth and family, health and international causes, while “male-deciding” households are more likely to give to religion, education and other causes.

* High net worth female-deciding households are more likely to give to youth and family services and religious causes, while male-deciding households are less likely to give to basic-needs organizations, and give lower amounts to those organizations.

* Single women spread out their giving more than do single men, although high net worth single women and men are similar in the concentration of their giving.

* Single women are more likely than single men to make women’s rights a priority, and less likely to make the economy and veterans’ issues a priority.

* Compared to couples that are “joint deciders,” a couple with the husband as sole decider is more likely to make the arts a priority as a social issue, while a couple with the wife as sole decider is more likely to make animal welfare a priority and less likely to make veterans’ issues a priority.

* Compared to joint deciders, a high net worth couple with the husband as sole decider is more likely to make the economy a key issue and less likely to make poverty a key issue, while a couple with the wife as sole decider is more likely to make human rights a priority.

Motivations for giving

* Single women are more likely than single men to cite their political or philosophical beliefs, and serving on a board or volunteering, as motivations for giving.

* In couples with the wife as sole decision-maker on giving, the household is more likely than joint-deciders to be motivated to give by spontaneously responding to a need, believing their gift makes a difference, and as a result of their political and philosophical beliefs, and less likely to be motivated by religious beliefs.

* In couples with the husband as sole decision-maker on giving, the household is less likely than joint-deciders to be motivated to give by setting an example for future generations, religious beliefs and the personal satisfaction of giving.

* For million-dollar donors’ gifts, individual women tend to mention “scholarship and “student” more than men do, reflecting a focus on the people their philanthropy can affect.

* Women are the only type of donor to have the term “unrestricted” appear in their top keywords.

* As women’s income rises, they become more likely than their male counterparts to give to charity.

Giving to secular and religious causes

* For the top 60 percent of income earners, women are more likely than their male counterparts to give to secular causes, and to give more.

* Millennial, Boomer and older women are more likely than their male counterparts to give in general and to secular causes.

* High net worth single women and single men do not differ significantly in their incidence of giving or the amount they give, either in total giving or in giving to religious or secular causes.

* A married person is more likely to give and to give more than a person who is not married.

* Single females are most likely to give to secular causes, and give more than do single men, married men and married women.

* Among high net worth households, being married does not increase the likelihood of giving, although married couples tend to give higher amounts overall and to secular causes than do single men and women.

* For giving to religious causes, households in which the husband is the sole decision-maker on giving are most likely to give.

* Compared to joint deciders, households in which the wife is the sole decision-maker on giving, and those with separate deciders, give less to to religious causes.

* Female-deciding households and and joint-deciding households are more likely to give to secular causes.

* Compared to joint-deciding households, only households in which men and women make giving decisions separately are statistically more likely to give higher amounts to secular causes.

* When either a wife or husband is a sole decision-maker, the amount of giving for religious purposes is lower than in jointly-deciding households.

Donors’ income and education levels

* A households in which the husband has unearned income from trusts or investments is significantly more likely to give to charity, while a household in which the wife has unearned income has no significant impact on whether the household will give to charity.

* An increase in men’s income tends to increase the likelihood and amount of giving to nearly every charitable subsector, while an increase in women’s income tends to increase the likelihood of giving to education, the environment, and organizations that address basic needs.

* The respective income of a husband or wife does not affect whether high income households give.

* The income of a high net worth husband is related to the amount of giving from the household, both overall and to secular giving.

* Education within a household generally does not affect the incidence or amount of giving for either the general population or high net worth households.

Todd Cohen

Community foundation focuses on donor service

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This was written for Blackbaud.]

While the financial markets gradually have recovered since they crashed in 2008, a focus on providing good customer service to donors has helped generate annual giving of roughly $300 million a year over the past 5 years to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

“The market plays a huge role, probably the biggest role,” said Brenda Chumley, senior vice president of foundation relations and operations at the Foundation. But the biggest factors driving annual giving, which grew to $393 million in 2014, are “the services you offer and the flexibility of your foundation,” she said.

Investment options

A flexible service that donors value is the Foundation’s practice, which it adopted roughly 10 years ago, that gives donors the option of using their own investment managers to manage the investment of the charitable funds they create at the Foundation.

Outside managers now manage roughly 70 percent of the $2.5 billion in assets at the Foundation, which was founded in 1978. Investment returns on funds managed by outside managers are generally comparable to those of the Foundation’s pooled funds that are managed by our own investment managers, Chumley said.

Donor relations

Unlike many community foundations with separate departments for developing new donors and for providing services to existing donors, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation operates with a single donor relations department that works with prospective and existing donors. So the donor relations officer who works with a donor to make a first gift continues to work with that same donor.

Key to the work of the donor relations staff members is developing one-on-one relationships with donors, Chumley said.

Each donor has a personal contact at the Foundation, and each donor relations officer meets at least once a year with each donor about his or her portfolio unless a donor prefers to have no contact. Whether the meetings are in person, over the phone, or not at all, the goal is to “being respectful of the donor’s needs and making sure we’re fulfilling them,” Chumley said.

The Foundation offers a graduated fee schedule based on assets in the fund. “We treat every donor equally from a service perspective,” Chumley said. “It’s one donor at a time, and whatever their needs are, it is those we will service.”

Staffing and technology

To best serve donors, the Foundation has made significant investment in technology and, over the past five years, has slowly increased the size of its donor relations staff to seven from five.

Donors can use an online donor portal to review their charitable funds, make grants, look at their investment earnings, or print out a fund statement. And for the past 10 years, the Foundation has used separate software to help it manage data from outside investment managers selected by donors who opt to use them.

Staff expertise

The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation does not operate with a separate staff for gift planning. Each donor relations officer is responsible for working with donors on a broad range of gifts. And the Foundation’s corporate counsel, who handles planned gifts and serves on the donor relations staff, supports other donor relations officers in

working with donors on more complex gifts.

Types of gifts

Cash and stock are the most popular types of gifts to the Foundation, and donor advised funds are the most popular type of fund, Chumley said. The Foundation is also seeing a lot of gifts of real estate and closely-held business entities.

“People are looking at their entire portfolio and deciding what makes the most sense for them to give,” she said. “Sometimes it’s an illiquid asset they can turn into a liquid asset.”

The Foundation has a lot of experience in accepting complicated gifts, particularly as a result of the gift of the Kansas City Royals baseball team that it received in 1994 and sold in 2000.

Donor education

As part of the services it offers to donors, the Foundation hosts three to four education sessions a year. Typically held at lunch and attracting 25 to 30 donors, the sessions focus on topics such as preserving donor intent or working with successive generations.

And the Foundation tries to keep the sessions informal and fun, Chumley said.

For several years in a row, for example, the Foundation delivered cupcakes to all its donors with a note thanking them for having a fund with the Foundation and offering them “a treat on us.”

“We work really hard to make giving easy and fun,” Chumley said.

Professional advisers

The Foundation works strategically with lawyers, accountants, financial planners, and other professional advisers, meeting with them one-on-one, hosting education events, providing printed and online information, and materials they can use in working with their clients, and serving as a resource whenever needed.

“We’ve made it easy to quickly set up a donor-advised fund or other fund at year-end,” Chumley said.

The Foundation also hosts two lunches a year that feature advisers who talk about their work with the Foundation, as well as its own staff.

Communications

Operating with a communications staff of two people, the Foundation targets selective communications about philanthropy and about its work and impact.

When the Kansas City Royals played in the World Series last year, for example, the Foundation’s president and CEO, Debbie Wilkerson, wrote an opinion column for the local newspaper about the gift of the team to the Foundation, and the impact of the gift on the community.

The Foundation places some advertising on its local National Public Radio station, which also occasionally interviews members of the Foundation’s staff for its programs.

“When appropriate, we do outreach in that area,” Chumley said. “But we don’t just constantly try to get stories in the paper.”

Giving hits record-high $358 billion

Charitable giving in the U.S. grew to $358.38 billion in 2014, marking the fifth straight year of growth and exceeding its peak in 2007 before the economy collapsed, a new report says.

Individuals, corporations, foundations and bequests all gave more, says Giving USA 2015, a report from the Giving USA Foundation and researched and written by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Total giving grew 7.1 percent in current dollars and 5.4 percent adjusted for inflation from the revised estimate of $339.94 billion in 2013.

Giving to religion, education, human services, and health reached record highs when adjusted for inflation, as did giving to arts, culture and humanities, and to the environment and animals.

Giving to foundations, public-society benefit organizations, and international affairs has not returned to or exceeded peak levels.

Who gives

Individuals gave $258.51 billion, up 5.7 percent in current dollars, or 4 percent adjusted for inflation, accounting for 72 percent of all giving.

Foundations gave $53.97 billion, up 8.2 percent, or 6.5 percent adjusted, accounting for 19 percent of all giving.

Bequests gave $28.13 billion, up 15.5 percent, or 13.6 percent adjusted, accounting 8 percent of all giving.

Corporations gave $17.77 billion, up 13.7 percent, or 11.9 percent adjusted, accounting for 5 percent of all giving.

Individual giving

The 5.7 percent increase in giving by individuals represented 58 percent of the increase in all giving.

Including giving by bequests and family foundations, individuals accounted for nearly 90 percent of all giving.

Itemized giving grew six percent and accounted for 83 percent of the total estimate for giving by individuals, while giving by non-itemizing households grew 4.1 percent.

Individual giving is affected by available, disposable household income, by wealth and by growth in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock-market index, all of which grew last year, as did general spending by individuals, the Giving USA Foundation says.

Foundation giving

Grants by independent foundations grew 7.8 percent, accounting for 74 percent of giving by all foundations.

Grantmaking by community foundations grew 10.9 percent, while giving by operations foundations grew 8.1 percent.

Corporate giving

Corporate giving includes cash and in-kind contributions made through corporate-giving programs, as well as grants and gifts made by corporate foundations.

Corporate foundation grants totaled an estimated $5.34 billion, down 0.8 percent.

Where giving goes

Giving to religion totaled $114.9 billion in 2014, up 2.5 percent in current dollars from 2013, or 0.9 percent adjusted for inflation, accounting for 32 percent of all giving.

Giving to education totaled $54.62 billion, up 4.9 percent, or 3.2 percent adjusted, accounting for 12.7 percent of all giving.

Giving to human services totaled $42.1 billion, up 3.6 percent, or 1.9 percent adjusted, accounting for 11.7 percent of all giving.

Giving to health totaled $30.37 billion up 5.5 percent, or 3.8 percent adjusted, accounting for 8.5 percent of all giving.

Giving to arts, culture and humanities totaled $17.23 billion, up 9.2 percent, or 7.4 percent adjusted, accounting for 4.8 percent of all giving.

Giving to the environmental and animal organizations totaled $10.5 billion, up 7 percent, or 5.3 percent adjusted, accounting for 2.9 percent of all giving.

Giving to public-society benefit groups totaled $26.29 billion, up 5.1 percent, or 3.4 percent adjusted, accounting for 7.3 percent of all giving.

Giving to foundations totaled $41.62 billion, up 1.8 percent, or 0.1 percent adjusted, accounting for 11.6 percent of all giving.

Giving to international affairs totaled $15.1 billion, down 2 percent, or 3.6 percent adjusted, accounting for 4.2 percent of all giving.

Giving to individuals fell 10.2 percent to $6.42 billion, accounting for 2 percent of all giving. Giving to individuals consists mainly of in-kind donations of medication to patients in need through the Patient Assistance Programs of pharmaceutical companies’ operating foundations,

Giving to religion

While giving to religion grew to a new high of $114.9 billion and continued to account for the biggest share of overall giving, that share has declined steadily for 30 years. In 1987, giving to religion accounted for 53 percent of all giving, compared to 32 percent in 2014.

That decline reflects the fact that fewer Americans identify with religion, attend worship services, or give to houses of worship, the report says. Those trends, it says, have been noted among Baby Boomers, and are being seen among younger age groups.

Giving to donor-advised funds

Giving to the biggest national donor-advised funds slowed dramatically, the report said. That decline may have slighted reduced giving to public-society-benefit groups, the report says.

It also said giving to pass-through charities that redistribute their funds to other organizations had seen little or no growth in recent years.

Todd Cohen