An Accountant Calls and Riches Fall from the Sky for Rape Program

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January 5, 2013; Source: Seacoast Online

Kathy Beebe is the executive director at Sexual Assault Support Services in Rockingham and Strafford counties in New Hampshire, a program with a modest budget of $425,000. So when she got a call from an accountant in November asking her for a tax ID number so someone could make an anonymous donation, she imagined that it might be as much as a few thousand dollars. The accountant called back right before Christmas and Beebe describes the call: “The accountant said the woman wanted to make a donation, and then she said, ‘It’s fairly significant.’ And I said, ‘How significant?’ When she told me it was $154,000, I cried tears of joy knowing what a tremendous impact this would have on SASS and our mission.”

There are no restrictions on the money and Beebe says all she knows about the donor is that she is not from New Hampshire and that she wants to have SASS enhance services to cover male victims of sexual assault and to expand its outreach efforts. A letter from the donor revealed her reasons for giving: “Your existing work in the community has been very impressive, and I am hopeful that this donation can help to further the population you are able to serve.”

It is clear that this donation did not come out of nowhere. The donor had some connection to the organization’s work and to the issue and a happy coalescence occurred. It is the result of good work on a hard issue but, as we all know, that is no guarantee of adequate funding.

NPQ has had a few such experiences and I have had a few in other positions but we would love to hear your stories about anonymous donations, especially when they come as a surprise. –Ruth McCambridge

  • Lori Goodman

    I am the Development Director for CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation, Inc.). We provide child abuse prevention and treatment throughout Santa Barbara county. We do excellent work and have a stellar reputation in our community. As a result, we have had several large “surprise” donations over the years. Inevitably an anonymous donor asked someone about us. I am so proud that the responses are unanimously positive. Donors do feel that their donations are used wisely and effectively. As much as I love knowing that my work as Development Director is directly responsible for increased giving, I also love working for an agency that attracts these unexpected, surprise major gifts.

  • Mitch Bruski

    This comment is a tangent to the article but one I think is important for NFPs to focus on: It is when unexpected gifts are given in appreciation of just doing the good work we do in an excellent way. For me, this is the highest compliment that can be given to a non profit.

    Our two examples of this are: One of our services is delivering meals to home bound seniors to assist them in maintaining their independence in the community in order to stay out of institutional care. We had been doing this for a very long time to one person, who when he died at 103 without heirs, had willedhis house to us to sell. A second who was aware of our reputation for other senior services in the community left our agency almost $500,000 in a trust. Both were unsolicited and both were unexpected opportunities to help the program that helped them.

  • Olivia Heartelly

    Now that woman surely nurtures her desire of being humanitarian to make such a smart move… XOXO:D