Charities, of course, love unrestricted gifts because they can use the funds to fill the greatest need at the time the funds arrive. Many donors, on the other hand, like to designate their gifts for specific purposes—and sometimes those purposes can get very specific, as the following story illustrates:
One of our Pentera team recently attended an event put on by his college alma mater in which the college president is touring the nation in an RV, going from city to city to hobnob with alumni (including prospective donors). The tour recently hit Indianapolis, with the college hosting a fancy dinner at one of Indy's finer downtown restaurants.
The 30 or so alumni were pleasantly surprised that six incoming freshmen from the area also attended the dinner. The alumni—most in their 50s, 60s, and 70s—enjoyed talking with the new students, with the informal conversation tending to focus on "how you picked our college." One common answer from both students and alumni was the scholarship assistance offered—and it came out that the incoming freshmen were each receiving a $500 scholarship to savor the filet mignon!
"Wow," commented one alumnus to the freshmen. "You're getting money to be here, and they're going to be asking me for money because I'm here!"
That remark elicited laughter all around. The energy level in the room certainly seemed elevated by the young people embarking on their college careers. When the college president spoke briefly, he explained that the $500 scholarships were being funded by an anonymous donor who had heard about the nationwide tour and wanted incoming students to attend events in as many cities as possible. The donor approached the president and made the offer of a gift for that specific purpose. Who could refuse?
Thirty cities, maybe half a dozen students in each city, $500 per student. That's not a small gift. The donor didn't explain the reasons for choosing his specific purpose, just as many donors don't. But it did seem extremely generous, and some alumni at the dinner said it got them thinking about what they might be able to do—and what specific purpose they might choose. So even a tightly restricted gift can be inspirational to other prospective donors. The member of our Pentera family found himself pondering a future planned gift while also pondering another weighty issue at the end of the dinner: chocolate decadence cake or crème brûlée?