#77 | Why are charities increasingly at odds with their major donors? Part Two

Today’s podcast is the second in a two-part conversation about the UA-Culverhouse story with two guests who are a lot closer to the story than I - last week we talked to Randy Kinder, former Executive Director of Annual Giving at UAB, and today we are taking with Daphne Powell, Director of Donor Relations at Birmingham Southern College.

Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. recently explained in an Washington Post op-ed that the University of Alabama returned his $26.5 million gift after he voiced his opinion about the state’s recent abortion bill. Some would say that were it not for this particular divisive issue, such things wouldn’t happen.

I beg to differ. This isn’t the only dispute over a mega-donation in the headlines. Thomas Pearson and his brother Timothy Pearson are suing the University of Chicago to recoup $22.9 million. Last year, major donors to UNLV rescinded a $14 million gift after the president resigned.

I believe the explanation for many of these situations is simple. Nonprofits refuse to sufficiently invest in what I refer to as the middle lane. Without a thriving middle lane, organizations either become overly reliant on new donor acquisition or attempt major fundraising initiatives for which they and their donors are unprepared.


Jason Lewis