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