Keeping track of $1.58 billion in fund raising Grants: In the dizzying world of philanthropy, it can be hard to know who needs money and who has it to give away. Grantmakers has answers.

November 07, 1996|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

Fund-raisers and philanthropies navigate in a maelstrom of questions: Who wants money, who's giving it and how's it being used?

However they plot their course, big bucks are at stake. The area's large institutions, as well as some small ones, are trying this year to raise $1.58 billion in at least 94 capital and endowment campaigns.

They have gained $1.05 billion of it, or 67 percent, but there's more to come: Twenty-six organizations plan to begin campaigns they hope will net another $203.43 million.

To keep track of their progress, Maryland philanthropies and fund-raisers alike turn to an organization that is little known to the public: the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

The group, formed in 1983, has just released its ninth annual survey of capital and endowment campaigns, a report designed to help its members make smart decisions on the growing number of requests for funds.

This year's survey, taken in August and September, shows that the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions are asking the most by far. Their highly publicized $900 million campaign is part of the $1.58 billion goal total. Hopkins has raised $615.3 million.

The 93 remaining campaigns have goals that total $679.41 million, of which $435.62 million has been raised. Even without Hopkins, educational institutions dominate the drives, trying to raise more than $411 million.

Foundations and philanthropic corporations ask the same questions that prospective donors ask, said Betsy S. Nelson, executive director of the association since 1990. With funds limited and so many groups seeking money, whom should they support?

"Probably 95 percent of groups asking money are worthwhile," she said. "But our members are concerned about pressures on the private sector. How realistic are all these projects? Some members would like nonprofits to ask: How much are projects needed? Is there duplication of services?"

The association is a trade group of foundations and corporations engaged in philanthropic work. It keeps its 59 members informed through meetings, mailings, networking and other means.

The survey represents virtually all significant local efforts to raise capital and endowment funds, Nelson said. It covers continuing and new campaigns; some drives are near completion, others just starting. In 1994, the latest year for complete figures, 759 Maryland foundations -- private, community and corporate -- made grants of more than $229 million from endowment assets of more than $3.8 billion.

"The requests are never-ending," said Sue Lovell, director of the USF&G Foundation and association treasurer. "The survey gives grant-makers advance word on what to anticipate" next year."

Lovell said it may help in another way: "It's a useful tool for nonprofits who can see who their competitors are and are thinking about starting a campaign." Some may eye the field and postpone.

She said a USF&G council of 18 employees uses the survey, among many tools, to make the company's giving decisions. This year, the council parceled out $2.2 million in about 150 grants, many to smaller groups for whom $20,000 can make a difference.

Most of the funds are being sought from foundations and corporations, although schools and some others also look to individuals.

Douglas L. Frost, vice president of development for Maryland Institute, College of Art, said he has consulted the survey for years, noting the continuing rise in the area's capital programs.

The association does "a wonderful job of coordinating efforts and making people aware of the community's need," Frost said. He said the survey helps make it clear why fund-raisers "need to be able to secure new gifts and develop new sources both from the Baltimore area and beyond."

Capital funds are those used for construction, renovation or improvement of a property. Projects funded by endowments, other than capital projects, are financed only by the interest income from funds raised, such as for scholarships or maintenance.

Fund-raising drives

Funds sought in the 1996 survey were reported in five categories. Below is a sampling of the diverse drives:

Arts and culture: Twenty-five campaigns seeking $115.36 million, which $51.73 million has been raised.

Baltimore Zoo raised $9.1 million of $49.9 million for renovation of outdated areas and new construction.

Baltimore Opera Company raised $200,000 of $5 million for general operating.

Port Discovery-The Children's Museum, 34 Market Place, raised $11 million of $29 million for renovation of the Fishmarket, program development and exhibit design.

Douglass High School Alumni Association Inc., 1645 N. Calhoun St., raised $500,000 of $3.5 million to restore the old Douglass High School auditorium as a cultural and performing arts center.

Great Blacks in Wax Museum, 1601-03 E. North Ave., raised $3.1 million (including $2.7 million in challenge grants) of $10 million for property acquisition, development and renovation for museum expansion.

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