The secret millionaire in your file

jars-of-moneyby Guest Author Roger Craver In an ABC News piece not long ago entitled “Secret Donor,” Diane Sawyer told an absolutely charming and moving story about a Lake Forest College alumna named Grace Groner. Ms. Groner died in January at age 100 and left the College $7 million. According to Lake Forest’s President, the College never had a clue. For fundraisers, this is also a cautionary tale about over-reliance on traditional methods of screening, which depends on just what information is available, whether it’s helpful or not. Had Ms. Groner’s name passed through a traditional wealth screening process, the search would have drawn a blank. Because 80% of most wealth screening depends on real estate values, Ms. Groner’s modest home valued at $152,356 would have drawn little attention. And certainly there would be no SEC insider shareholder information, because Ms. Groner owned three shares of Abbott Labs, purchased in 1935 at $60 a share—today worth $7 million! But, as Tom Belford and I have preached over and over in our blog, often mega-gifts spring from the well of loyal, year-after-year giving regardless of the size of those loyal gifts. Bingo! I went into the DonorTrends TrueGivers database and found that indeed Ms. Groner was a loyal donor to a variety of causes in her community. Here’s a slice of the record that may have tipped off a fundraiser or researcher focused on alumnae with loyal giving habits: Short-9-image The generosity and loyalty of Grace Groner is more than a beautiful and moving story. It should serve as a reminder to all of us that actual giving, loyal giving, more than artificially induced “screening” using massive databases of unrelated information, can help find the needles in the haystack. Reprinted with permission from The Agitator.

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