Oprah’s Big… Give?

I thought this might be an interesting topic to discuss with fund development professionals. What do you think of the new TV show “The Big Give?” Do you like it, dislike it?

From a fund development perspective I have not be very impressed. It takes a long time to cultivate donors and to raise money for a cause or issue. It would be neat if each candidate had more time to develop a larger scale plan. There are so many opportunities to use social networking, granting, business involvement that can raise a significant amount of money but they take a couple months to a year to develop.

I heard Oprah mention that the major idea behind the series is to show how easy it is to help people. And under that definition I think that the show was a success. However, with Oprah’s influence and wealth I was expecting something a little more spectacular. Why not use her money to hire 10 industry experts to serve internationally helping nonprofits and make the show all about how they are changing the world. Or tell America that everyone is eligible to be a part of the “Big Give” all they have to do is create a “Big Give” project of their own locally. Then the show could highlight the most impressive projects.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the first couple of episodes. I hope that they start to develop the story behind the families that are being helped. This last week I didn’t feel that student loans for a medical doctor or that paying for a penthouse suite that a family will have to move out of when the money is gone are “Big Give” type solutions. What did you think?

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4 Responses to Oprah’s Big… Give?

  1. Terri Andrews says:

    I agree that the case for support for a doctor with significant amounts of student loans was weak. That was clearly evidenced by “ask” after the fashion show, where no one donated.

  2. Linda M says:

    I’m so glad to see another fundraiser thinking about this show. I posted recently to my agency’s blog about it (http://pwclblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/big-give-did-you-see-it.html) and have some similar feelings. Not impressed. I really admire Oprah but, as a fundraiser, I think this show might make our lives a little harder. Think of all the well-intentioned but naive board members who will now say, “Why don’t we get on Oprah’s Big Give to solve our fundraising problems?” Ugh. I sense the headache coming on already.

  3. I am hearted by this blog, as well as the dialogue that is open to discussing this matter, as opposed to simply following “Oprah’s lead” be jumping on the bandwagon without giving strategic thought and/or planning to what is being done. I work for a nonprofit organization that seems to think money is growing on trees and that all the development officer needs to do is go out and pluck it. Nothing could be farther from reality. The Board will not engage on any level, nor is the ED interested in having them do this. I agree with Linda’s comment that too many inactive Boards will see this as a panacea for fundraising — which it most definitely is not. Effective fund development is all about RELATIONSHIPS and that process is critical to long term success. When will people learn?

    What is good about Oprah’s program is that people are gaining awareness about how good it is to give. Turning that into a “contest” makes me ill.

  4. Med Relief says:

    I think it at least gets people thinking in the right direction. I am all for helping people be responsible citizens and responsible corporate leader, which to me includes giving back to the community that sustains you.

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