Nature has battered the globe in the past year, sending devastating earthquakes and hurricanes East and West. Seldom have natural forces cre-ated so much havoc in such a short period of time.
But hard times bring out the best in people, and philanthropy’s current picture is one of individuals, churches, private foundations and com-panies coming to the aid of their neighbors in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Arkansans have given $6.2 million to the Red Cross. They’ve given literally tons of clothing and necessities to those left homeless by the hurri-cane, opened their homes, welcomed children to school. The state Game and Fish Commission has given evacuees free fishing and hunting li-censes.
Arkansas’s home-grown giant, Wal-Mart Stores, put the federal government to shame with its enormous response to the human misery in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. The company donated $17 million from its Wal-Mart Foundation to relief funds, plus in-kind giving worth more than $3 million. Theirs was the largest gift of any U.S. company. Of course, Wal-Mart is the largest company — in the world. Some might seek to make something less of the gift on that account, but the comfort brought to the displaced thousands by Wal-Mart’s swift and efficient deliveries of food, clothing, medicine and other goods is nothing but laudable. Add the $5 million the Walton Family Foundation has given to relief, and you’ve got a $25 million investment in putting people back on their feet.
Red Cross Community Affairs Director Alan Gibson said people in Central Arkansas accounted for $1.2 million of the giving to the Red Cross for hurricane relief. But, he added, the value of hours volunteered and gifts of clothing, food and shelter is nearly incalculable.
Gibson wouldn’t mind more contributions — Red Cross spending in Central Arkansas stands at $4.2 million. But he’s grateful for the help he’s gotten. “I think for a state the size of Arkansas, it’s a tremendous display of support.”
Not surprising, then, is Arkansas’s ranking as second in the nation in the Catalogue for Philanthropy’s Generosity Index, which measures giving in relationship to assets, a ranking it’s held for at least five years. In 2003, the last year for which data is available, Arkansas ranked eighth in founda-tion giving as a share of gross state product — no doubt because of the Walton Family Foundation and the Walton Family Charitable Support Foun-dation, which combined gave away $400 million in 2003.
In terms of philanthropic dollars, the disasters could have happened at a worse time. Giving took a big dive after 9/11’s stock market collapse, but began to bounce back in 2003. Gifts to charity in 2004 hit an all-time high of $248.5 billion, according to Giving USA’s annual report — 5 percent higher than in 2003. Individual gifts accounted for more than half the total — $187.9 billion — 4 percent more than in 2003.
In Arkansas, that largesse has been funneled to the University of Arkansas, the number one recipient of philanthropic dollars in the state. As this issue of the Arkansas Times hits the streets, UA fund-raisers will be celebrating their successful $1 billion capital campaign, dedicating a clock that now ticks from the tower of Old Main. A clock was always planned for Old Main, but when the building went up 133 years ago, the University ran out of money. The new clock embodies the University’s claim that “its time has come,” David Gearhart, vice chancellor for University Advancement, said last week.
When the Campaign for the Twenty-first Century went public in 2000, its goal was $500 million. But in 2001, the Walton family announced it would give the university $300 million to match contributions to the campaign, and the UA raised its goal to $900 million. When it exceeded that amount last April, a new goal of $1 billion was set — and met by June, a gift of $12.5 million from Tyson Foods Foundation putting it over the top. The Windgate Charitable Foundation in Siloam Springs was another heavy lifter this year, giving $10 million in January. The total fiscal year haul was $126.9 million. The final campaign tally was $1.046 billion.
The UA’s fund-raising has “changed the landscape” of philanthropy in Arkansas, a Little Rock fund-raiser says, in ways both good and bad.
Fran Carter, president of the Arkansas Association of Fundraising Professionals, said the response to the UA “changes the expectation of what individual donors can do for an organization.” But when donors make multi-year commitments to achieve their gift, or have made what she called “sacrifice” donations, there’s less to go around to other causes.
Carter, who’s headed up development for Youth Home Inc. for the past six years, said non-profits “that truly meet a community need and live up to their mission will continue to be supported.” Much of the UA’s success came from the wealth of Northwest Arkansas, the home of Wal-Mart millionaires and rich corporations. Just a couple of weeks ago, J.B Hunt Transport Services Inc. pitched in $10 million to help build the UA’s planned $30 million Center for Academic Excellence.
Central Arkansas’s charities, slightly off the radar in Northwest Arkansas, aren’t as reliant on giving from that quarter, anyway, so Carter’s op-timism that local support will continue apace is probably well-placed.
There is worry, the UA’s Gearhart said, that hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the other tragedies that the earth is rumbling up lately will cre-ate “donor fatigue,” though the UA has not seen a significant drop-off so far. The UA will likely give its own big donors a breather until the next capital campaign in three to five years.
In Little Rock, the most visible — or soon to be visible — evidence of successful fund-raising is the Clinton Presidential Library and the new headquarters for Heifer International and Lions World Services for the Blind downtown. These are non-profits that create economic wealth, Carter notes. The newly opened Jack Stephens Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the home of Trojan basketball, is another tangible success story, the result of a $22.4 million gift the late financier Jack Stephens made in 2003.
“The pie can always be bigger,” Carter said. “There are always people in the community who are not being asked or not being asked by the right organization, or people who are not giving at their capacity.”
Many have been asked by the right organization — or have initiated their gifts. Here are some of the largest donations made by individuals and foundations since April 2004, grouped by category of funding:
Warren and Harriet Stephens and the late Jackson T. Stephens donated $30 million to Episcopal Collegiate School for operating costs and other expenses.
The Tyson Foods Foundation of Springdale gave $12.5 million to the University of Arkansas’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and the Division of Agriculture, the Sam M. Walton College of Business and other University of Arkansas programs.
The Windgate Charitable Foundation of Siloam Springs gave $10 million to the UA to create a department of educational reform.
J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell gave the UA $10 million to help build its $30 million Center for Academic Excellence.
The Trinity Foundation and its officers — W. Scott McGeorge, Wallace P. McGeorge, Haskell L. Dickinson II, Gerald Majors and Drew Atkinson — gave $6 million to UALR to endow the systems engineering program at the university’s CyberCollege. It was the largest endow-ment in the history of the institution.
J.B. and Johnelle Hunt, founders of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., gave the UA $5 million toward the Center for Academic Excellence.
Donnie D. Pendergraft gave $5 million to UA Fort Smith, the largest single contribution the school has ever received. The donation will fund a merit scholarship endowment in the College of Health Sciences, endowed professorships in the College of Business and general endowments.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation gave $4 million to the Arkansas Community Foundation to support science mini-grants for public mid-dle-school teachers.
Wallace and Jama Fowler of Jonesboro gave $1.5 million to the UA for the construction of the university chancellor’s home on the Fayette-ville campus.
Rush Harding III and his wife, Linda, donated $1.25 million to the University of Central Arkansas at Conway to build a fountain and endow programs. The 2004 gift was the largest received by UCA at that time.
Mary Lib and Chancellor John White made a gift of an annuity that will guarantee $1.5 million to the UA at their deaths to create an en-dowed chair in the College of Engineering.
James and Marie Hefley committed $750,000 to endow a professorship at the UA College of Engineering.
William R. and Jo Ella Toller of Houston, Texas, and the Toller Family Foundation made a $750,000 commitment to the UA to establish the Toller Honors College Fellowships.
Golden State basketball player Derek Fisher donated $700,000 to UALR to fund the “Fisher Fellows” program that pairs UALR athlete mentors with students from Southwest Middle School and to build an auxiliary gym at the Stephens Center.
An anonymous donor gave the University of Arkansas at Little Rock $500,000 provide scholarships for art students.
George and Charlene Edwards of Eatonton, Ga., gave $500,000 to the UA’s Sam Walton College of Business for a jobs program for under-graduates and graduates.
The Ted and Betty Williams Charitable Trust gave $500,000 to Hendrix College to establish the Vernon Giss Endowed Scholarship.
Pat and John Cooper gave $500,000 to the UA libraries to honor former U.S. Sen. Kaneaster Hodges and his wife, Lindley.
G.R. “Dick” Mosley gave $400,000 to Hendrix College for its new athletic and wellness center, in honor of James B. Rasco of Little Rock and Roger Bates of Yellville.
Michael and Jenny Messner of Summit, N.J., gave $340,000 to the UA Fulbright College to endow the Elizabeth Barnes Messner Scholar-ship in Journalism.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation gave $320,580 to the University of Arkansas at Monticello for a model project to improve the writing skills of teachers seeking national board certification.
Thomas B. Goldsby Jr. of West Memphis gave $250,000 to UA’s Mullins Library to fund an educational research laboratory.
Curtis and Jackye Finch and Les and Jerrie Finch made a $250,000 gift to endow a travel award for study abroad, in honor of Libby Finch.
Sid and Rita Davis of Fayetteville gave $250,000 to establish a professorship at the UA School of Law.
The estate of Alline May Montgomery of Clarksville gave $240,000 to the Arkansas Educational Television Network Foundation.
Bill and LeAnn Underwood of Fayetteville have pledged $200,000 to UA’s Sam M. Walton College of Business to recruit and retain faculty.
Richard and Tamara Greene of Fayetteville gave $200,000 to establish Honors College scholarships at the UA, in memory of Richard Green’s parents.
The family of David Snowden gave $160,000 to the UA to fund Arkansas Honors College scholarships, in honor of B. Alan Sugg.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation gave $140,000 to the UA College of Education and Health’s Arkansas A+ Schools Network.
The estate of Helen Guinn Adams of Fayetteville donated $8.735 million to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, creating the Helen Guinn Adams Research Fund Endowment.
The estate of businessman James H. Hamlen II gave $8 million to be shared equally by UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. It was the largest gift ever made to Children’s Hospital. A portion of the money was directed to the completion of the Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute conference center.
The Marie Denise DeBartolo York Foundation gave $1.5 million to UAMS to create the Aubrey J. Hough Jr. chair in pathology and the John and Denise DeBartolo York chief residency in pathology.
Fred and Louise Dierks of Hot Springs gave $1.5 million to UAMS’ campaign for the Psychiatry Center slated to open in 2006.
Jane and Bill Hardin gave $100,000 to Arkansas CARES (Center for Addictions Research, Education and Services) at UAMS.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation gave Audubon Arkansas $402,448 for the “Common Ground” environmental education project at Granite Mountain Nature Center.
Dr. John B. Simpson and his wife, Donna, donated 200 acres worth $220,000 to the Nature Conservancy of Arkansas. The gift was in addition to a previous gift of 348.5 acres by the Simpsons to create a preserve on Trap Mountain in the Ouachitas.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation gave $143,796 to the Arkansas chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice for NCCJ’s “Unitown” program.
Betty and Leon Millsap donated $500,000 to build a bridal hall at Garvan Woodland Gardens.