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Year-End Giving: Leveraging Connections

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Today Bill©2010 B. DeLouise and Melinda Gates announced a $50M gift to the Smithsonian to leverage its programs for school children not able to come to the nation’s capital.  The funds will help to finance projects developed by Smithsonian researchers on a competitive basis, with a goal of creating a Smithsonian-led education community, according to The Washington Post.

In a tough economy, leveraging existing work is critical for nonprofits and for-profits alike.  At Children’s National Medical Center, a challenge gift of $25 Million from Diana and Stephen Goldberg allowed the hospital to bring in more than $55 Million in additional gifts.  On a smaller but equally hi-impact scale, this September, cycling blogger Elden Nelson was able to raise more than $135,000 in less than 10 days for LIVESTRONG and World Bicycle Relief by leveraging the connections he had built through his blog, Twitter and Friends Asking Friends.

According to The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy report just out,  many companies reduced their philanthropy from 2008 to 2009—59% of those surveyed. But 36% increased their total giving, and many leveraged tools such as in-kind gifts and combined efforts with other corporations to do it. As a result, aggregate giving was higher in 2009 than in 2008 by 7%.

As we approach the end of the calendar year, and you consider your charitable giving, who can you collaborate with to make a bigger impact? How can you leverage work already being done and take it into new communities? And how can you mine your social media tools to extend your reach?