Tag Archives: Benjamin Franklin

FRANKLIN AND WHITEFIELD: The Immovable Donor Meets the Irresistible Fundraiser

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In a previous post I wrote about Benjamin Franklin’s 200-year endowments to the cities of Philadelphia and Boston to fund apprenticeships. Like so many planned gifts, Franklin’s bequest was motivated by his own life experiences. At age 12 Franklin signed on as an apprentice in his brother’s printing shop. Another experience that factored significantly into the Franklin endowments was his long and highly unlikely relationship with the Rev. George Whitefield. Below are four takeaways for 21st century fundraisers. Continue reading

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OPTIMISM: Ben Franklin and the 200-Year Endowments

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In 1785 a French mathematician named Charles Joseph Mathon de la Cour wrote a parody of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac in which he mocked the unbearable spirit of American optimism represented by Franklin. The Frenchman fictionalized about “Fortunate Richard” leaving a small sum of money in his will to be used only after it had collected interest for 500 years. Franklin wrote back thanking de la Cour for the great idea and telling him that he had decided to leave a bequest to his native Boston and his adopted Philadelphia… People with a fearful, pessimistic view of the future are never going to fund multigenerational or perpetual endowments. Continue reading

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