May 4, 2010; Source: Wall Street Journal | If you ever wonder about the ability of one to make a difference, take heart in this story—one of a series called “Donor of The Day” that has recently started in a new section of the Wall Street Journal devoted to covering New York City. Leslie Ogan, who is profiled by Shelly Banjo, won’t show up on any list of the city’s major philanthropists, but what she has done on her own is besting two of New York’s better known givers.
According to the Journal, Ogan never earned more than $65,000 at the Brooklyn Public Library. Yet, the 67-year-old is marking her retirement with a $30,000 gift to the World Music Institute (WMI), a nonprofit that enables New Yorkers to experience music and dance from around the world.
Like many arts and cultural organizations, the recession has wreaked havoc on WMI. Ticked sales have dropped about 30 percent in the past two years, and WMI lost $125,000 in foundation funding—including $75,000 awarded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg through an arrangement with the Carnegie Corp. of New York. As a result, WMI has had to cut programs and trim staff pay by 20 percent.
The music group plans to use Logan’s gift to help it raise another $100,000 in matching funds. Why is she digging into her own funds when those with far deeper pockets are cutting back? “It’s a difficult time in the economy, particularly for arts organizations. Hopefully my donation can help carry WMI through the next year or so and ensure the future of the organization,” Ogan said. Her comments speak volumes.—Bruce Trachtenberg