New public list catalogs $1 million donors

Searchable online database for the philanthropy-minded

Oct 5, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

By Liz Skinner

Financial advisers have a new resource for helping clients make the most of their philanthropic dollars and it could boost the public profile of all givers, like it or not.

A database at milliondollarlist.org catalogs public gifts of $1 million or more donated since 2000. The searchable, online list includes more than 60,000 gifts reported publicly by individuals, and through public tax records in the case of foundations and businesses, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which compiled the database.

It is free and can be searched by geographic area, dollar amount, type of charity, individual donor, organization name and other criteria to help identify regions that lack certain types of support or identify like-minded individuals for potential collaborations.

“This will help inform donors' decisions and guide advisers as they provide information to clients to help them give more strategically and more effectively,” said Una Osili, director of research for the center.

Increasingly, wealthy clients view philanthropy as an investment. Many look for advisers to help them think more strategically and look for ways to make more of an impact with their philanthropic gifts.

The database is the result of more than 10 years of work at the center, aided by a $650,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which helps fund the technology needed to make this database useful for the public.

Financial adviser Andrew Feldman of AJ Feldman Financial LLC said most of his clients aren't looking to give away $1 million at a time, but he expects the resource could be useful for searching local organizations.

“My clients usually give to organizations that are near to them,” he said. “This information has always been relatively public but no one really digs through that and coordinates it.”

As a former member of a foundation's board of directors, Mr. Feldman said the list could be useful as a fundraising tool for groups looking to target high-net-worth individuals who have supported certain types of causes in the past.

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