News & Politics

Chasing Money

Getting Big Donations Is the Name of the Game at Museums, Hospitals, and Charities. The Tricks Are Very Creative, and the Gifts Are Really Big.

When James Billington was appointed head of the Library of Congress, it was an institution oblivious to the modern art of high-dollar fundraising.

The library had received exceptional gifts during its long history: Abraham Lincoln items, including the original Gettysburg Address, as well as money for a chamber-music auditorium from Chicago grocery heir Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. But the library had no office devoted to solicitations from private donors, getting nearly all of its money from Congress.

Billington–a Rhodes scholar, author, and former Princeton history professor–had raised considerable money during his 13 years here as director of the Woodrow Wilson International

Center. He was eager to replicate that success.

Billington put together a small fundraising staff and began assembling a group of donors known as the James Madison Council. The membership was limited to 100 people with high net worth. Each was expected to be generous–the required contribution was $10,000 a year–with the hope that there would be more, in some cases much more, where that came from.

The success of the Madison Council, which started with 12 members in 1989, required first gaining the attention of a few of the country's wealthiest people, who in turn were expected to bring along some of their peers. Leonard Silverstein–a Washington attorney and fixture on the boards of the city's cultural institutions–was a friend of Billington's who made the introduction to the man who would become the council's chair.

That was John Kluge of Charlottesville, who had built a global telecommunications company called Metromedia and was one of the richest men in the world. Billington's introduction to the Madison Council's vice chair, an oil man from Dallas named Edwin Cox, came at a private dinner with Ronald and Nancy Reagan hosted by their longtime friend Betsy Bloomingdale.

The Madison Council, in its first decade, has recruited people who represent many strains of wealth. Some made money as entrepreneurs, some are executives who worked their way up in giant companies. And though a few have familiar names–Laurance Rockefeller, Mitzi Perdue, Michael Bloomberg, Peter Lynch, Donald Newhouse, Bob Hope–many others are barely known. Hope and his family, at the urging of Bloomingdale, donated a collection of his jokes that runs to 89,000 pages.

Washington has supplied more members than anyplace else. Many are associated with the region's best-known businesses, including the Washington Post (Katharine Graham), Chevy Chase Bank (B. Francis Saul II), Discovery Communications (John Hendricks), Hechinger's (John Hechinger), Riggs Bank (Joe Allbritton), the Madison Hotel (the late Marshall Coyne), America Online (James Kimsey), the Washington Wizards (Irene Pollin), and Giant Food (the late Lillian Solomon).

More remarkable is the large number of Texans who have been eager to become council members and write checks to the library. Most have joined at the urging of Edwin Cox, who is big in Dallas society. There are several other oil and gas millionaires, including two daughters of the legendary H.L. Hunt as well as Kenneth Lay, the executive behind the growth of Houston-based Enron and one of George W. Bush's biggest contributors.

Most surprising is Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who plunged in–right in the heart of Redskins territory–and gave $1 million to re-create the personal library of Thomas Jefferson, which was lost long ago in a fire.

Council members get world-class treatment. While their twice-a-year meetings are often in Washington, sometimes a council member entertains at his own place, including John Kluge's spread near Charlottesville or the Rockefeller estate along the Hudson.

Every other year Billington leads council members, at their own expense, on a tour of the great libraries of Europe, so far hitting England, France, Italy, and Spain. These are high-level affairs and have included audiences with Pope John Paul II, Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, and King Juan Carlos.

The payoff for the library? Members of the council have contributed nearly $190 million over the past decade, including more than 30 gifts of $1 million or more. The money has made possible more than 200 projects, from putting millions of documents on the Internet to preserving old films.

The biggest gift, which will endow five chairs and create a $1-million prize in a field not covered by the Nobel Prize, came from John Kluge and totaled $60 million.


You don't have to pack a checkbook as big as John Kluge's to recognize that fundraising solicitations have become as ubiquitous as death and taxes.

Mailboxes are filled with letters from homeless shelters, youth groups, and Easter Seals. That phone call at the dinner hour is from your alma mater, and the doorbell brings a neighbor who needs a sponsor for a 10K.

The causes keep proliferating–so many that fundraisers worry that "charity fatigue" will wear out donors. United Way of the National Capital Area channels donations to about 1,100 organizations here, and a new Web site called, created by the AOL Time Warner Foundation, is linked to 640,000 charities worldwide. Feeding the hungry, immunizing children, saving animals, financing medical research, supporting orchestras and museums, conserving the environment–worthy causes are nearly endless.

New ones are added each year. On a list of the 400 largest nonprofits compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy–in there with old-timers like the American Red Cross, the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, and the YMCA–are several that did not exist 25 years ago, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Habitat for Humanity, the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Locally, the Whitman-Walker Clinic's AIDS program raises more money through United Way than the Boy Scouts do.

An old distinction–private institutions like Georgetown University raise money from donors whereas public institutions like the Library of Congress rely on tax dollars–no longer applies. The Smithsonian Institution, which did not start intense fundraising until 1997, raised $206 million from private sources last year. Restoration of the Washington Monument was accomplished with $6.5 million from Target–a project the discount chain found appealing because Michael Graves, who designed the blue-sheathed scaffolding, also has designed some of its housewares.

Public education goes regularly to the charitable well. The University of Virginia, whose endowment has reached more than $1.8 billion, is in the midst of a $450-million fundraising campaign. The University of Maryland at College Park has begun naming its buildings after private donors rather than its former presidents (Byrd Stadium) and governors. And some public schools, including DC's Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, have their own foundations.

Washington has a special place in the world of fundraising because so many nonprofits are headquartered here. Those include the country's largest nonprofit, the Salvation Army, which raised nearly $1.4 billion last year, as well as the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, United Way of America, Goodwill Industries, the Humane Society, Special Olympics, the United Negro College Fund, Tobacco-Free Kids, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries. Several national disease or disability groups also call Washington home, including those focused on cystic fibrosis, diabetes, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and mental health. Adding to the mix are conservation groups–the Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, the Conservation Fund, World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, and the National Park Foundation.

These groups raise hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and several have CEOs with high-level government experience. The American Red Cross, where Elizabeth Dole was once president, is now headed by Bernadine Healy, a former director of NIH, and the new Labor secretary, Elaine Chao, came from the top job at the United Way of America. William Gray III at the United Negro College Fund is a former congressman from Pennsylvania. Ý

The relentless nature of fundraising by nonprofits is fueled by their growing ambition, government cutbacks, and rising costs. A new exhibit on the American presidency at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History cost $12 million; the National Zoo raised $18 million to acquire and exhibit its new pandas; a production of the Washington Opera costs about $4 million; and the National Symphony Orchestra pays its music director, Leonard Slatkin, just over $1 million a year. The cost of the new addition to the Corcoran Gallery of Art by Frank Gehry is likely to be $120 million or more. Even little stuff adds up: Washington Ballet spends about $45,000 a year on pointe shoes for its dancers.

These pressures have propelled fundraising to the top of institutional agendas. Boards looking for a new head of a university, museum, or other nonprofit pay strict attention to the ingenuity of candidates in finding donors and applying charm. Fundraising offices–usually known as "development" or "advancement" offices–are growing. The Smithsonian, with 16 museums, employs 110 people in fundraising, and Georgetown University, which is in the middle of a major campaign, has about 100.

Headhunting firms recruit development directors at impressive salaries. There are magazines, newsletters, and conferences galore, awards for the best campaigns, universities where you can take courses on fundraising. For amateurs, there's Fundraising for Dummies.

Fundraising has borrowed the arts of marketing, advertising, and public relations from the corporate world. Telemarketing by alumni associations–four-part scripted encounters that move from "open" to "engage" to "ask" to "close"–differ little from calls by credit-card companies.

Mass-market fundraising has grown with the widespread use of computers and databases. They've made targeted direct mail commonplace as leased lists of potential donors are combined with professionally written appeals. The latest trend: Web sites with fundraising pitches, including one for the Smithsonian's air-and-space museum to be built at Dulles Airport that allows donors to "adopt" a plane.

Fundraisers have become much more creative in dreaming up opportunities for giving. You can donate "gifts in kind"–a favorite of companies like Microsoft (free software), Marriott (free rooms), and Giant (free food for the hungry). Federal Express flew the National Zoo's new pandas from China to Washington for free, garnering a dozen mentions in the Washington Post and much attention on local television.

Dozens of charity events–from black-tie galas to bikeathons, walkathons, marathons, and telethons–are held each year. Fight Night, featuring a stag evening of boxing and started by real estate investor Joe E. Robert Jr. in 1990, has raised more than $14 million for children's charities. You also can buy a brick with your name on it to grace a walkway at your alma mater or bid on a cruise or lunch with a celebrity at a charity auction. Darva Conger's wedding ring fetched $26,000 in an auction to benefit the Los Angeles chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Some charities benefit from donations of land and houses, which may be sold or converted to parks or other uses. The headquarters of the local Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, which includes a manor house and 40 acres of wildlife refuge, was donated by Marion Wells, the daughter of an Australian tobacco magnate, who married an American naval officer.

Not every offer is accepted. The Smithsonian refused to take over Marjorie Merriweather Post's Hillwood mansion because it felt she placed too many restrictions on its use. Later, at a time when the Smithsonian was being criticized in Congress for being overextended, it turned down Paul Mellon's estate near Upperville for use as a horticulture research center, despite Mellon's offer of a $30-million endowment.

The take from charitable fundraising is just over $200 billion a year, with about $6.2 billion of that coming from the Washington area. The average tax return showed charitable deductions of $2,635 in suburban Maryland, $2,193 in Northern Virginia, and $2,117 in DC–together about 46 percent higher than the national average.

Washington, with its government workforce and its thousands of well-paid lawyers, has always been one of the country's most affluent cities, but the growth of the private sector here over the past two decades has created a new class of even richer residents.

Another indication of the new wealth is the number of family foundations, which provide tax benefits and allow their creators to spend their money as they, rather than the government, see fit. The Washington area now has nearly 2,000 foundations of various kinds making grants.

The most eye-popping trend in fundraising is the increase in megagifts like that $60 million to the Library of Congress by John Kluge. In the past three years, according to compilations by the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Slate magazine, there have been about 50 charitable gifts of $50 million or more nationally. One of the largest, $1 billion over 20 years from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be spent on science scholarships for minority students through the Fairfax-based United Negro College Fund.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore got $100 million from Michael Bloom-berg, an alumnus who founded the Bloomberg Financial Service and is chair of the university's board.

The Smithsonian has had several big scores. A gift of $100 million from California developer Kenneth Behring will be used to renovate the National Museum of American History and part of the National Museum of Natural History. A gift of $60 million from a California aircraft-leasing entrepreneur named Steven Udvar-Hazy will help pay for the new air-and-space museum to be built at Dulles. Catherine Reynolds, a 43-year-old Washington woman who founded a financial-services company dealing with student loans that she then sold for a bundle, has given $38 million to the National Museum of American History–suggesting at the time that she plans big gifts to the Kennedy Center and other Washington institutions as well.

The Kennedy Center got $50 million from New York investor Alberto Vilar to support ten years of performances by the Kirov Ballet and Opera, and the Corcoran got $30 million from two AOL Time Warner executives, Robert Pittman and Barry Schuler, toward its new addition. Children's National Medical Center got two $25-million gifts in March from Washington families that have made big money in real estate–Joe E. Robert Jr. and his wife, Jill, and Stephen and Diana Goldberg.

Several gifts of $5 million or more have gone to American University, George Washington University, the University of Maryland, George Mason University, Georgetown University, and Gallaudet as well as such places as Mount Vernon, the National Zoo, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Washington National Cathedral, and St. Albans School. Gifts of $1 million rarely even make the papers.


Around the table in a conference room on a university campus sit a dozen middle-aged men and women; most are alumni who have given lots of money to their alma mater. They are handed lists of other alumni by a person from the university's development office, and they set to work scanning page after page of names.

It's easy for these screeners to skim through about 2,000 names an hour, stopping to jot down anything they might know about someone. Looking over their shoulders you get an idea of what's considered pertinent: "Has a house in Palm Beach." "On a couple of museum boards." "Sold his business for a bundle."

In the fundraising trade this is known as a "screening and rating" panel, and it is one of the techniques used to find potential donors. It's a part of prospect research–the detective work aimed at discovering who has the "capacity" for a big gift. This is a job that employs an increasing number of people, especially at universities. Behind all the surreptitious inquiry is the assumption that the more an institution can collect in its files about a prospect's net worth and interests, the better it can shape a solicitation.

Certain people need no introduction: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, David Rockefeller, Walter Annenberg, Ted Turner. More than likely they have a foundation to handle their philanthropy–an institution once defined by critic Dwight McDonald as "a large pile of money surrounded by sucking sounds."

The trick is to find "quiet money"–people who don't make a splash in the press and live well without anyone's knowing how they do it. There's enough quiet money in Washington to be worth the trouble. "You sometimes find that a person, having gone to Groton and Yale, decided to skip a business career and go into the foreign service or the CIA, but they still can afford a nice house in Spring Valley and a place on Nantucket. Turns out that the grandfather made a fortune in widgets," says a consultant who follows up tips for some of the best private schools.

Washington also has wealthy people who are well known to development offices but mostly unknown to the public. The late Laura Emily Phillips, the chief accountant of Equitable Life Insurance Company and widow of its onetime president, was a big donor to Washington National Cathedral, Washington Ballet, George Washington University, the Washington Opera, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Ladislaus von Hoffman, a retired Washington businessman, supports many institutions, including the Levine School of Music, which received $1 million from his Arcana Foundation. The Hattie M. Strong Foundation, founded in 1928, is named after the wife of a cofounder of the company that became Eastman Kodak; it focuses on education and is run by Henry Strong, Mrs. Strong's grandson.

Or consider the legacy of Katherine Gregory Thomas. Mrs. Thomas inherited oil money, was married to a lawyer who died in the early 1960s, sent her two sons to St. Albans, and lived for years on a dairy farm in Montgomery County. When she died in 1994 at the age of 96, the Washington Post obituary page took no notice. But when the farm was sold to a developer and her estate was settled, $15 million went to the National Cathedral and $7.5 million to St. Albans.

In 1996, a computer manager with the US Customs Service named Paul Peck showed up at the Sidwell Friends School auction and bid $76,000 for a round of golf with Chelsea Clinton's dad. Turns out Peck was a Wharton School graduate with a knack for the stock market who also did high-tech consulting. He had his own foundation, which dispensed college scholarships to minority kids; he also made a $1.3-million gift to Montgomery College and a $2-million gift to the National Portrait Gallery.

FUNDRAISERS acquire a sense of smell for money. An impressive house in an upscale Zip code or a vacation home in a swank locale may be worth following up, as are ownership of a successful company and expensive pastimes–large-craft sailing, racehorse breeding, art collecting.

All the better if there are no kids with claims on the family fortune. The well-to-do foreign-service officer Robert Woods Bliss and his wife, the donors of Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, had no children, nor did Henry Clay Folger and his wife, whose unmatched collection of rare Shakespeare books and manuscripts rests today in his library on Capitol Hill.

Beyond those gossipy screening-and-rating panels are plenty of other sources of information about potential donors. One is self-disclosure. Those class notes at the back of college and prep-school alumni magazines can be suggestive. Many private schools, having learned that tuition is sometimes paid by grandparents, ask for their names on application forms and invite them to special events. Some also ask for maiden names–a famous one sending the thrill of expectation through a development office.

Some institutions–universities, prep schools, hospitals, and churches–have a leg up because they can compile lists of prospects from their own clientele. Alumni lists are invaluable, which is the basis for an old joke: Two guys are shipwrecked on a barren island; one's worried to death, the second completely calm. "Don't worry," says the second guy, "my alumni association will find us."

Hospital patient lists are rich in possibilities, which is why hospital fundraisers were horrified last year when the US Health and Human Services Department proposed that they be denied access to patients' names and addresses out of respect for their privacy. The fundraisers mounted a lobbying effort, and the proposed regulation was withdrawn.

A previous donation provides the same linkage. It's always more cost-efficient for a charity to go back to tried-and-true donors than to find and cultivate new ones.

Those lists of richest people that are compiled by magazines are clipped and filed. Several companies, includng Bethesda-based, do research on wealthy individuals. Business directories and social registers come in handy, and court records of lawsuits, divorce settlements, and wills occasionally are of interest, though the more money there is, the more likely it is hidden in trusts.

It's also possible to get a feel for a person's wealth by going online. Property-tax records will show how much a house is worth; the 990-PF forms required by the Internal Revenue Service show the size and spending habits of a person's foundation; and the proxy statements on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate whether someone has substantial blocks of publicly traded stock.

The scale of riches has reached such heights, says one local prospect researcher, that she's had to invest in a new calculator because her old one lacked sufficient digits.

There are times when a gift results from a bit of luck. Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen–he's a dentist, banker, and real-estate developer–gave American University their collection of modern art and $10 million for a new performing-arts center in part because Mrs. Katzen, a painter, fell in love with the art department when she took classes there years ago.

Steve Trachtenberg, the president of George Washington University, tells of having lunch one day with a lawyer who told him about one of his clients, the widow of Maurice Shapiro, who had made a fortune in suburban Maryland real estate. The lawyer had tried to convince her to make a large contribution to his own alma mater–an Ivy League university–but she insisted that the money her husband (and his brother) had made be put to a useful purpose closer to home. Trachtenberg called her up, and so far she's given GW nearly $10 million.


One of Washington's peculiarities is how many benefactors made their money far away and long ago. Andrew Mellon, whose art collection and fortune made possible the National Gallery of Art in 1941, was a banker and industrialist from Pittsburgh. Duncan Phillips created his modern-art collection with an inheritance from Pittsburgh's steel mills. Andrew Carnegie–who paid for DC's first major public library in 1903 and created Washington institutions devoted to science and international peace–ran his business empire from Pittsburgh and New York.

Charles Freer, who donated his Oriental-art collection and paid for a

museum on the Mall in the 1920s, made his fortune building railroad cars in Detroit. Joseph Hirshhorn, whose art collection now belongs to the Smithsonian, made his money on uranium mines in Canada.

Alfred Sackler was a New York medical researcher and publisher, Henry Clay Folger a New York oil man, Marjorie Merriweather Post an heir to Michigan cereal money, and Robert Brookings a St. Louis rope and twine maker. It's true that William Wilson Corcoran, who built Washington's first art museum (now the Renwick Gallery) on Pennsylvania Avenue just before the Civil War, was a local businessman–he founded Riggs Bank. But a big part of the Corcoran Gallery's collection came from a Montana copper-mining king named William A. Clark.

To get a feel for homegrown philanthropy, walk around the campuses of local universities, where the names on the buildings are a measure of the wealth created here in real estate. Many of the city's richest developers or their wives got degrees at GW, American, or the University of Maryland, and those campuses have reaped the benefits.

American has a business school named for Robert Kogod, an arena and library for the Bender family, and a spiritual center for Abraham Kay. At College Park, the engineering school is named for A. James Clark, a veterinary building for the Gudelsky family, a business school for Robert H. Smith, and a new performing-arts center for his wife, Clarice Smith.

GW has buildings paid for in part by real-estate developers thanks to the fundraising prowess of former president Lloyd Elliott. In addition to the Charles E. Smith Center and the Melvin Gelman Library, the list includes buildings named after Theodore and Annette Lerner, Morton and Norma Lee Funger, and Robert and Clarice Smith.

Real-estate money also built a couple of the city's biggest foundations. One is based on the fortune of Morris Cafritz. It has given away millions, most recently more than $10 million for the new sculpture garden west of the National Gallery of Art and $1 million for a new museum of DC history. Betty Brown Casey's offer of $100 million to DC to plant trees and create a mayoral residence as well as $18 million to purchase the old downtown Woodward & Lothrop department store for the Washington Opera came from the moneymaking skills of her husband, suburban-Maryland developer Eugene Casey.

Other benefactors with roots in Washington got rich in various ways. They include the Mars family in the candy business, the Marriotts in restaurants and hotels, the Hechingers in home-improvement centers, the Cohen and Lehrman families of Giant Food. The late David Lloyd Kreeger made money in insurance, Frank Saul in banking, and the Kiplingers in publishing. Eugene Meyer, the father of Katharine Graham, made money on Wall Street before buying the Washington Post.

Washington also has begun to develop a new wave of wealth that is making a mark in local philanthropy. The late William McGowan, the founder of MCI, left behind a foundation that puts money into education and medical research. Jack Kent Cooke may have left his son in a bad position to acquire the Redskins, but the $500-million foundation established from the team's sale will provide millions of dollars each year to education.

John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Communications, is a supporter of the Library of Congress, Holton-Arms School, and almost anything involving soccer. Roger Sant, a cofounder of the AES global energy company, and his wife, Vicki, have given $5 million to the National Symphony Orchestra and $800,000 to the National Zoo's panda exhibit. They also have foundations that focus on environmental and population issues worldwide–he's a former chair of the board at the World Wildlife Fund–and spend about $4 million a year on cleanup of the Anacostia River and prevention of teen pregnancy in DC's poor neighborhoods.

What really has Washington fundraisers excited is the new money generated by high tech. There are some frustrations. High-tech millionaires are often young, preoccupied with building their businesses, and not ready to devote much time to philanthropy. Their companies–and often their residences–are in the suburbs, particularly in Northern Virginia, and they aren't linked as tightly as older benefactors to institutions in DC. The plunge in tech stocks gives some pause; nobody wants a pledge that can't be met. Still, who can blame a development office for dreaming? You can bet St. Andrew's, an Episcopal prep school in Potomac, is glad to count among its alumni the multimillionaire founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar.

Executives of America Online, the most successful of the tech companies here, are the largest single group of new philanthropists. Steve Case, chair of AOL Time Warner, and his wife have a foundation that has given $10 million to PowerUP, a group that tries to bridge the so-called "digital divide" for disadvantaged children, as well as $5 million to Special Olympics.

Other gifts from AOL millionaires include $30 million to the Corcoran from Robert Pittman and Barry Schuler and several gifts by the company's founding CEO, James Kimsey, including $10 million to the Kennedy Center and its affiliate, the National Symphony Orchestra. Kathy and Art Bushkin have sunk $25 million into a foundation to help nonprofits better use technology. And Ted Leonsis gave his alma mater, Georgetown University, $1 million, making him the youngest alum ever to make a gift that large.

Several notable gifts have come from people who have struck it rich in other high-tech companies. Jeong Kim, who got $510 million from the sale of his company, Yurie Systems, to Lucent Technologies, has given $5 million to the University of Maryland, where he did his PhD, and $1 million to Johns Hopkins, where he got his undergraduate degree. Mario Morino, a cofounder of Legent, has committed $10 million to a fund serving the learning needs of children–the same fund that has received $4 million from Raul Fernandez, founder of Proxicom.

Not overlooked by fundraisers is money from other countries. Embassies open their doors to charity events, and foreign governments and corporations are reliable underwriters of exhibitions, from the Vikings show at the Museum of Natural History (Volvo) to an exhibition of the work of French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres at the National Gallery of Art (Airbus Industrie). Georgetown has received $5 million from Eric Hotung, a Hong Kong businessman and alumnus, and $10 million from BMW for a center for German and European studies.

Japan was on everyone's prospect list when its economy was riding high. The Phillips Collection got a gift in 1986 from Yasuhiro Goh and his wife, Hiroko (Bridgestone-tire money), to help build an annex that bears their name. An even bigger Japanese contributor has been painter Ikuo Hirayama, who has given about $11 million to the Freer and Sackler galleries.

Foreign money also has provided some embarrassing moments. Georgetown University returned $750,000 from the government of Libya because it no longer wanted to be associated with international bad boy Muammar Qaddafi. American University once got a big pledge from Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi arms dealer, to help finance a campus complex for recreation and other uses, but Kashoggi failed to make his payments, and his name on the front of the facility was removed. Ý

Fundraisers chase down millions of dollars in gifts and grants from corporations, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the top of the list of those based in Washington. The Museum of Natural History got lots of smiles–and a few lifted eyebrows–when it raised $500,000 to renovate its insect zoo by naming it after Otto Orkin, founder of the pest-control company. Ralph Lauren and his Polo company, which uses the American flag as a logo, gave $10 million to the Museum of American History to restore the Star-Spangled Banner that inspired the anthem of Francis Scott Key.

The biggest contribution to the National Zoo's new exhibit of photogenic pandas is $7.8 million from Fujifilm. The University of Maryland is following the lead of professional sports in selling naming rights to its new basketball arena to Comcast for $25 million.

To do such deals, fundraisers have to let their imaginations soar. When Mount Vernon decided to reconstruct George Washington's distillery, it got $1.2 million from the Distilled Spirits Council. The Washington-based National Park Foundation, faced with the need to preserve log cabins in several national parks, got $1 million from the company that makes Log Cabin syrup.


There are magical moments when big gift flies in over the transom. It's happened twice at Gallaudet, both times by way of bequests from people who had no previous connection with the university for the deaf. In 1994, a middle-class Baltimore woman who had invested in blue-chip stocks in the 1930s left the university $4 million, perhaps because her late husband was deaf. And a few months ago, a woman from Philadelphia left $7 million for reasons unknown, though one relative speculated that she empathized with deaf students because she had faced obstacles too, having gone through life just 3H feet tall.

But most big gifts are acquired by gradually building a relationship. Gestation periods vary, but the idea is always the same: to get potential donors engaged with an institution, sometimes by inviting them to be members of its board. You also need a hook–a project that both fits the institution's vision of its future and matches some interest of the donor.

The bonds between donors and institutions originate in all sorts of ways. A major gift to the Corcoran in 1998 came from Bernhard Bechhoefer, a Washington lawyer and former foreign-service officer, and his wife, Estelle, who had worked at the museum as a volunteer for 40 years. Fairfax real-estate developer Edwin Lynch and wife Helen donated their $6.7-million home and acreage on Mason Neck to George Mason University last year for a conference center–nearly 50 years after Lynch, then a state legislator, was one of those promoting creation of the university. The Kiplinger family began supporting WETA television 40 years ago because it carried no advertising–just like their financial-advice publications–and has been among the station's most generous benefactors ever since. Earlier this year when the Ford Motor Company gave Mount Vernon $7 million to build a new visitors center, it marked the continuation of a relationship that began in the early 1920s when Henry Ford gave the home of the first president its first fire engine.

An agile fundraiser, like a perfect dance partner, possesses qualities that make a potential donor feel desirable and at ease. Attention to detail is part of it–always ready with invitations to important events, to take phone calls, to spend time talking and showing people around, to dispatch the little note of friendship and respect. Flattery may work if it's not too obvious. One technique used by art museums is to exhibit the painting or sculptures of collectors in hopes they will donate something. Respect for a donor's privacy also is essential, and charm is an enormous asset.

The late Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian from 1964 to 1984, was a master of the donor dance, having acquired the collections of both Joseph Hirshhorn and Alfred Sackler.

Hearing that a glitch had developed in an effort by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to win Sackler's collection of Oriental art, Ripley arranged to meet the collector in his New York apartment. Ripley, an aristocratic ornithologist, had spent World War II in Southeast Asia working for the Office of Strategic Services, the spy agency run by William "Wild Bill" Donovan. Upon entering Sackler's apartment, Ripley saw one of Sackler's pieces of Oriental furniture and recognized that it had once been owned by Donovan. Sackler was so impressed by Ripley's knowledge of the piece's provenance that the relationship was off to a grand start.

The smart fundraiser also is careful to guard against the unintentional insult. One donor tells of his outrage at receiving a letter from a university president that was filled with fake intimacy and seemed to be signed by an autopen.

The chief fundraiser at another university tells of his horror when he took a businessman to have lunch with students at a dormitory the man had financed. One of the kids got up and launched into an attack on American capitalism. The fundraiser was certain he would never get another gift from the man, but the donor shrugged it off: "In three or four years that kid will be a whiz on Wall Street."

The bigger the gift, the more likely that the key relationship will be between the donor and the institution's chief executive. That's why people like James Billington at the Library of Congress, Lawrence Small at the Smithsonian, and David Levy at the Corcoran as well as the presidents of all universities spend lots of time raising money. "People give to people," says Robert Hanle, head of development at the Smithsonian.

Sometimes the key contact is not the top executive but a doctor who has treated a child of well-to-do parents or a curator or professor in a field the donor is interested in. The late Jerome Lemelson, who made his fortune as an inventor and held more than 500 patents, got his introduction to the Smithsonian through friendship with its curator of invention, which led to $40 million for a study center on invention at the Museum of American History.

Sharon Percy Rockefeller often tells people she imagined that marrying a Rockefeller would mean never again having to ask for money–only to find, when she became president of WETA, that it came with the territory. In the early 1990s, while raising funds for a new WETA building, she found herself approaching other members of the Rockefeller family. They kicked in $2.5 million despite a longstanding "Rockefeller code" that family members aren't supposed to hit up one another.

There does come a time, after all the stroking, when a fundraiser has to sit down and make a solicitation–a moment known as "the ask." It's something like "What would it take for you to consider a $25-million gift?" Hidden in that question is a world of nuance–consideration of the donor's means and inclination, an invitation to further thought, and syntax that can't be answered with a simple "no."

The trick is to balance patience with persistence–one reason, perhaps, why fundraising is sometimes likened to landing a big fish with light tackle. Pull too hard and the line snaps. Professional fundraisers live with the risk of moving too fast. They also know that it's possible to wait too long, to keep courting and never pop the question. "It becomes a dance that never ends," says one fundraiser. "I've seen situations where the ask was never put on the table and the donor actually died without estate arrangements." One of the elemental aspects of timing has to do with a donor's age. Though some 35-year-olds, especially those with inherited money, turn to philanthropy early, really big gifts are more often made later in life. By then a donor's money is made, his values ingrained, and his interests set. His mortality is visible, and thoughts of a legacy grow stronger.

That's why universities like Harvard make huge efforts to gin up enthusiasm for 25th- and 50th-year reunions and encourage competition among classes for record attendance and record contributions. By then the alums have been out in the world long enough to be nostalgic about their college days–and long enough to have accumulated considerable wealth.

Timing counts in the short term, too. The sale of a company, which may free up an abundance of assets, is a good time to make a move.

Fundraisers know better than to make the ask in the midst of a nasty divorce, a time when assets may be tied up. Divorce occasionally shapes a gift, though. At one university, which had been negotiating with a couple for an endowed professorship in both their names, the wife won a divorce settlement requiring the husband to endow it in her name only.

How much to ask? You don't want to ask for so much that you seem greedy, but you don't want to insult someone by asking too little. Fundraisers sometimes talk about "stretch gifts" that push the envelope of a donor's capacity. Sharon Rockefeller puts it like this: "Make it big enough to get the donor excited but small enough to remain within his budget." One other rule: Ask for a specific amount.

The person who poses the question is carefully chosen. It may be the head of the development office, but more likely it's the institution's CEO or a board member with whom the donor has a relationship.

In the case of a board member, it's important that he or she is perceived as a peer who supports the institution in a big way himself. As they say, "Never send a $10,000 donor to ask for a million."

There are differences of opinion about the best place for making a solicitation, though it's done everywhere from sailboats and golf courses to university clubs and the cloisters of great churches. Some fundraisers feel it's respectful to go to the donor's home turf. Others like to make the solicitation at the university, the hospital, or the museum over an intimate lunch, followed by a tour to show just where that new performing-arts center or much-needed wing will be.

One hospital fundraiser tells the story of a board member who was given a last-minute tour before signing the paperwork to seal his multi-million-dollar gift. When he peeked into an unoccupied patient room that the housekeeping staff had yet to clean, he saw dirty sheets, leftover food on a tray, and cigarette holes in a blanket. The man–the owner of a retail chain who liked to show up unannounced at his stores for white-glove inspections–stalked out of the hospital, resigned from the board, and was never seen again.

Rifts occur even after a gift has been delivered if there isn't a clear understanding of the influence a donor will have over his money. Institutions like to have as much flexibility as possible–an attitude embodied in an old New Yorker cartoon depicting a university president meeting with a potential donor. "We can't guarantee that your philosophy will be taught," the president says, "but we can see your name on a philosophy chair."

When donors insist on more control, institutions tend to complain of micromanagement, and misunderstandings sometimes lead to a mess. For universities, one of the touchiest issues is whether–or how much–a big gift will influence the admission of a donor's children.

Donor influence has become a big issue at the Smithsonian after big gifts to its National Museum of American History by California developer Kenneth Behring ($80 million for a major renovation) and Washington businesswoman Catherine Reynolds ($38 million for an exhibition on Americans of high achievement). Curators have protested that Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small, in undue haste to get these large gifts, has given Behring and Reynolds too much say over what the museum will exhibit and how history will be interpreted. Though the Smithsonian's top officials insist that the museum will maintain "ultimate control," curators object to the fact that Reynolds was given the right to choose two-thirds of the panel that will select those to be included in a proposed hall of fame of American achievers. They were further horrified when she suggested to a reporter that the honorees–in addition to Martin Luther King Jr. and Jonas Salk–might include Oprah Winfrey, Dorothy Hamill, and Martha Stewart.


When Robert Mcdonough came to Washington after World War II to enroll at Georgetown University, he was married with one child and another on the way. To cover expenses, he worked a midnight-to-8 shift as a police officer at the US Capitol.

Graduating with the Class of 1949, he made his first contribution to Georgetown's annual fund that same year–a $5 check. McDonough eventually moved to California, worked for a time as an oil executive, then started his own company in 1965 supplying "temps" to the office market. The company, RemedyTemp, now has 230 offices nationwide and annual revenues of $500 million.

Every year for half a century, McDonough sent an ever-larger check to Georgetown. He accepted an invitation to serve on its board and helped raise money and recruit students. To top off that commitment, last year he donated $30 million, the largest gift in the university's history, which led to the renaming of its business school in his honor.

The gift was part of an eight-year campaign by Georgetown to raise $1 billion to finance a wish list, including everything from a new residence for Jesuits and improvements in the library to more than 40 endowed professorships and a new science center. It's not the country's largest fundraising effort–nearly two dozen other universities have goals exceeding $1 billion. Johns Hopkins has just finished a campaign that netted $1.5 billion, and a campaign at the University of Virginia took in just over $1.4 billion.

But Georgetown's effort is the biggest ever in the Washington area. Among other institutions, the University of Maryland already has surpassed a campaign goal of $350 million for its College Park campus, and George Washington is going after $500 million.

Religion also is a strong motivator for charitable contributions. Churches and other religious institutions get 43 percent of all US charitable dollars, followed by health (18 percent), education (14 percent), human services (9 percent), the environment (6 percent), and the arts and culture (6 percent). It turns out that George W. Bush and wife Laura are fairly typical Americans, with about 65 percent of their annual contributions over the past decade going to Methodist churches they attended. That's not counting one unusual contribution in 1998, the year Bush sold the Texas Rangers: $150,000 to Southern Methodist University, Mrs. Bush's alma mater.

Washington's Catholics support many institutions. Catholic Charities, a social-service agency with its national headquarters here, is the 11th largest nonprofit in the country. Universities like Georgetown and Catholic University command loyalty, as do Catholic prep schools such as Gonzaga, DeMatha, and Bishop O'Connell. Less known are foundations here started by well-to-do Catholics who concentrate their giving on homes for unwed mothers, adoption services, and aid for elderly nuns and priests.

Episcopalians have the distinction of carrying on what must be Washington's longest fundraising campaign. The Washington National Cathedral was conceived in 1891 at the home of Charles Carroll Glover, who was then the head of Riggs Bank. Construction began in 1907 and was not finished until 1990.

Evangelical Christians have long been acknowledged masters of mass-market fund-raising through television appeals and direct mail–a tradition that has included such figures as Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. Charles Colson, the former Nixon aide who was born again following his involvement in the Watergate scandal, has built Prison Fellowship Ministries into an organization that raises $45 million a year for work with inmates and ex-convicts. Dennis Bakke, a devout Christian who co-founded the international energy company AES with Roger Sant, gives millions each year to evangelical causes through his Mustard Seed Foundation.

Washington's Jewish community is a major source of contributions to many cultural institutions. The family of the late Charles E. Smith–which includes his son, Robert, son-in-law, Robert Kogod, and their wives–has made major gifts to WETA, the University of Maryland, American University, George Washington University, the National Gallery of Art, and other institutions.

The Jewish community also supports a long list of institutions that contribute to its religious and ethnic identity. These include three Jewish community centers, the Hebrew Home, and the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School as well as institutions in Israel and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (formerly known as the United Jewish Appeal), which supports Jewish communities locally and throughout the world. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which opened here in 1993, is another favorite, having received gifts of $1 million or more from Mr. and Mrs. Albert Abramson, Abe and Irene Pollin, Ina and Jack Kay, Annette and Theodore Lerner, the Smith-Kogod family, the Bender family, and Laszlo Tauber, among others.

Other ethnic and racial groups have favorites too. The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes of Connecticut, which have grown rich from gambling casinos, have each given $10 million to the Museum of the American Indian to be built on the Mall. And Howard University, which has claim to African-American loyalties, got $2 million from Time Warner in honor of the late Commerce secretary Ron Brown as well as $750,000 from rap artist Sean "Puffy" Combs.

Hospitals are the envy of fundraisers because every illness cured, every injury repaired, every life saved creates a bond between the institution and a patient's family. John W.M. Thomas, head of development at Children's Hospital, estimates that two-thirds of its board members and many of its largest donors have had kids treated there, some with life-threatening problems. After Quinn Bradlee–the son of former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and journalist Sally Quinn–was treated at Children's, the two parents pitched in as heads of a five-year fund-raising campaign.

Chronic diseases–as well as disabilities–also generate lifetime commitments. The family of Joseph Kennedy Sr., whose children included a mentally retarded daughter, has spent more than 30 years building the Special Olympics into one of the biggest events for the mentally disabled. For the past dozen years, an annual roast to support research on spina bifida has been chaired by CNN anchor Judy Woodruff and her husband, Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal, whose son suffers from the defect.

The city's gay community has become a fundraising powerhouse after organizing to fight AIDS, which has killed an estimated 11,000 people here. The Whitman-Walker Clinic–in addition to its 13-year-old AIDS Walk and weekly "gay bingo" benefits–now takes in more money via United Way designations than any institution except So Others Might Eat.

Even death presents melancholy opportunities for charity. The Hospice of Northern Virginia often gets gifts from grateful families whose loved ones it cared for or even from those who just admire its work. An Arlington couple, Roy and Margaret Halquist, bequeathed more than $2 million, the hospice's largest gift.

Fundraising events memorializing the deceased are common. The five-kilometer Race for the Cure, which attracts more than 70,000 runners here each spring, honors Susan Komen, an Illinois woman who died of breast cancer at age 36. The event was started by her sister, a Dallas socialite named Nancy Brinker, who was a big contributor to the presidential campaign of George W. Bush and is his choice for ambassador to Hungary.

Occasionally entire institutions grow out of the shock of a death too young. The Levine School of Music memorializes Selma Levine, a lawyer and amateur musician who was killed at age 51 in a car wreck. Sasha Bruce House, which provides shelter for troubled teens, was the gift of the late Evangeline Bruce, wife of ambassador David Bruce–as a tribute to their daughter, Sasha, who was murdered when she was 29.

Geographic connections count. PAT Sajak, the Los Angeles-based game-show host, and his wife have given $1 million to a hospital in Annapolis, an area where she grew up and where the couple lives for part of the year.

One of the more unusual donors who took a liking to a particular place is Irwin Uran, a man who made a fortune in the stock market and spent about three years in the late 1990s living with a bodyguard in Leesburg's Best Western motel. Several years ago, acting on his late mother's advice to be charitable, Uran started giving money away. In 1997, when he was 71, he shocked everyone by walking into the office of the Leesburg town manager and handing over a check for $1 million to be spent on poor children. Although Uran has since moved away, he has donated several hundred thousand dollars to a variety of Loudoun County institutions, including the public library, an animal shelter, a veterinary clinic, a synagogue, a museum, and police and fire departments.

Distinctive landscapes also engender passions. One such place is the Chesapeake Bay. Philip Merrill–who owns The Washingtonian as well as the Annapolis Capital–is an avid sailor whose home overlooks the Severn River. He donated $7.5 million for a new Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters. Merrill later gave $10 million to the journalism school at the University of Maryland in College Park.

To the west of the city, many wealthy horse breeders and landowners are just as protective of Northern Virginia's Piedmont region, whose interests are expressed through the Piedmont Environmental Council. During its epic struggle with the Walt Disney Company in 1995 to keep a theme park out of Prince William County, donations to the PEC grew to several times their normal size. The biggest contributor was a low-profile millionaire named Frederick Prince, who has a farm in the area and a home in DC, though his money goes back to Chicago, where his family owned the world's largest stockyards.

Nobody did more than the late Paul Mellon to protect the landscape around his Upperville horse farm. In the 1970s, when he learned that a slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance was to be covered by a housing development, he dispatched agents to buy the tract and gave it to the state of Virginia to be preserved as Sky Meadows State Park.

It is no surprise in a town with such deep political divisions that ideology plays a role with some donors. Some lean to the left, focusing their giving on the environment, handgun control, world peace, civil rights, poverty, and the like. Democratic fundraisers Smith and Elizabeth Bagley–he's an heir to the R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune–have a foundation that supports everything from campaign-finance reform to changes in US policy toward Cuba. Conservatives have long claimed a leftist bias at some of the country's biggest foundations–citing the ironic circumstance that so much money made by hard-nosed conservative businessmen like Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie is now doled out by softhearted liberal foundation bureaucrats.

Conservative donors have made their mark with contributions to think tanks that promote their political agenda. The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center for Strategic & International Studies as well as the libertarian Cato Institute all depend heavily on conservative donors. Wichita-based Charles Koch has given $10 million to George Mason University to support the study of market-based solutions to social and economic problems.

People also loosen their purse strings in the face of an emergency. When the pavilion at the Wolf Trap performing-arts center burned to the ground in 1982, its original benefactor, Catherine Filene Shouse, raised several million dollars to rebuild. One Washington man, whose daughter's private school suffered a serious fire, explains how institutions can turn a misfortune into a fundraising opportunity: "To you it's just a fire. To me it means they'll be expecting an even bigger contribution."

Just the threat of a loss often induces a donor to come forward. Earlier this year it was a foundation created by the late newspaper owner Donald Reynolds that stepped in with $30 million to buy and display Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Fifteen years ago, Washington attorney Robert Linowes led an effort to raise money and find a new location for the Shakespeare Theatre, which was at risk of being closed.

Philanthropy may be driven by pure passion–art collectors, music lovers, and theater buffs are obvious examples.

Consider Gilbert and Jaylee Mead. They've had long careers as research scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, and they love going to the theater and working in amateur productions. But they also inherited money from Gilbert's grandfather, a founder of Wisconsin-based Consolidated Papers. Since then they have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Studio Theatre, Arena Stage, and other Washington theaters.

The Smithsonian, with museums spread across so many subjects, is a perfect place for fundraisers to play the passion card. Winton Blount, an Alabama businessman who was US postmaster general during the Nixon administration, has given $10 million to the National Postal Museum. Stephen Udvar-Hazy, the California businessman who gave that $60 million for the air-and-space museum at Dulles, has been an airplane fanatic since boyhood–a time, in his native Hungary, when he looked into the sky and saw airplanes as a symbol of freedom from Soviet tyranny. John and Adrienne Mars gave $5 million to Air and Space partly because Mrs. Mars is an avid pilot.

After Robert Bass led an effort to save part of historic Fort Worth from destruction by a highway project in the early 1980s, he gave $5 million to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. David Duffield, a cofounder of PeopleSoft in San Francisco, has committed $200 million–in honor of his late schnauzer Max–to help animal shelters save every homeless dog and cat in America from euthanasia.

David Woodley Packard, son of the cofounder of Hewlett-Packard and a man who has an interest in preserving and showing old films, has donated $10 million through the family foundation to the Library of Congress to buy and renovate a once-top-secret underground facility in Culpeper. It will preserve and store the library's collection of 150,000 movies. It's one of those wonderful twists that history offers: a place once intended for use by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in case of a nuclear attack will now ensure the survival of Dr. Strangelove.


One of the greatest gifts in Washington's history has always been surrounded by mystery. It was a bequest delivered to the US government in 1836, and it totaled $508,318.

It came from an Englishman who had never set foot in America, and his will was insistent that the money be used to create an institution in Washington named in his honor and devoted to "the increase and diffusion of knowledge." The benefactor was James Smithson, an illegitimate child of the Duke of Northumberland who became an accomplished chemist and mineralogist.

While the size and conditions of the gift were clear, Smithson's motivation was not. Had he left his entire estate to America because his illegitimacy had left him an outcast from British society? Did he feel some kinship with America's founding fathers, both in their democratic aspirations and their interest in science? His crypt and personal effects are on display in a small room at the north entrance to the Smithsonian Castle, but there's nothing there that solves this mystery.

The ambiguity surrounding James Smithson's last act is not unique. Giving away money always involves some private triangulation of heart, mind, and purse. Somewhere along a motivational continuum from altruism to self-aggrandizement lies the truth. "That," says one fundraiser, "is why this is an art, not a science."

Americans have a culture that encourages charitable giving; we contribute much more than the average European. But we also have a tax code that makes giving attractive. After the introduction of the federal income tax in 1913, it was only four years before charitable deductions were allowed. In effect, they allow people to spend money on their own priorities–rather than the government's–and enjoy a matching grant from Uncle Sam. No wonder that development offices tout an array of giving options to fit the tax situation of any donor, alive or dead.

The best vehicle for maximizing tax savings and assuring control of one's money is the charitable foundation. They are almost de rigueur today among the wealthy. Right now they are an issue in the debate over abolishing the estate tax, which has been proposed by the Bush administration but is opposed by many charitable groups. The fear is that it would remove the incentive for the wealthy to create foundations and encourage them to leave their money to their children.

One downside of foundations is that they must report their charitable activities to the Internal Revenue Service, which makes the information public. Anyone can see when Robert McNamara gives money to the Council on Foreign Relations, Elizabeth Dole to Campus Crusade for Christ, Warren Buffet to Planned Parenthood, or David and Joan Maxwell to local antipoverty groups.

The tax benefits of giving don't mean that selfless motives are absent. Charity has roots in many religious traditions, some of which encourage tithing. "Shrouds have no pockets," goes an old saying. Often with great wealth comes a sense of social obligation that is taught in some families from the cradle. It's not so much guilt at being rich–though that's possible, too–but a feeling that those who are blessed have a duty to share. Giving may also bring great personal satisfaction. "Don't give 'til it hurts," goes an old saying, "give 'til it feels good."

The idea of "giving back" is a philanthropic impulse often on display in its most emotional form among immigrants who came to the United States with little and struck it rich. Donors like John Kluge, the Library of Congress patron who arrived from Germany at age eight, and Steven Udvar-Hazy, the benefactor of the Smithsonian's air-and-space museum at Dulles, come to mind, but there are others. Laszlo Tauber–a Hungarian Jew who survived the Holocaust, then came to Washington, where he practiced medicine and made a fortune in real estate–has given $15 million to endow scholarships for the descendants of American soldiers who liberated Europe from Hitler.

The emotional attraction of a gift "in memoriam" is something all fundraisers recognize. Earlier this year an eight-year-old Fort Washington girl named Taylor Seven raised nearly $3,000 from classmates and friends for the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University, where her father was treated before his death. James Schlesinger, a former Defense secretary, gave $1 million to help build and name a performing-arts center in honor of his wife on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College. She was a violinist who died of cancer.

A gift doesn't have to be huge to make a point. Two sisters have established a fund that gives grants for needy Montgomery County families in honor of their mother. They call it the Grateful Girls Fund.

Institutions have lots of familiar ways of recognizing donors and expressing gratitude. They run lists of benefactors in their publications, arranged by the level of generosity; install their names on brass plaques; carve their names in stone; and grant them honorary degrees. These days you'll also find them listed on Web sites. Among the very rich, a building named in one's honor can be a respectable and powerful form of personal advertising.

Perhaps that's why only a small percentage of high-dollar gifts are anonymous. Some people prefer their privacy, perhaps out of shyness, a desire to hide their wealth, or to shelter themselves from other solicitations. Or even to protect their kids: One family has donated $1 million for a building at a private school here with the condition that the name won't go on until their kids graduate.

During the 1990s, perhaps the biggest anonymous gift in Washington was $17 million to Georgetown University to endow scholarships for students from war-torn countries like Bosnia and Northern Ireland. In Baltimore, Johns Hopkins earlier this year got an anonymous $100-million gift for research on malaria.

Though Andrew Mellon's gift of the National Gallery of Art and his art collection were not anonymous, it did involve a twist on the name game. Leaving his name off the portico was intended to depersonalize the institution and encourage gifts from other art collectors.

Most institutions that raise a lot of big gifts have formal policies about "naming opportunities," spelling out in detail how much cash is required to get your name on something. Professorships, elevators, lobbies, pews, patient rooms, gymnasiums, flying buttresses, trees, pipe organs, doors–the possibilities are limitless. Each one is usually on a price list, though the amount required for the biggest items like entire buildings or schools are often left open to negotiation.

Prices have gone up. You can get your name on the Native Foods Cafe of the National Museum of the American Indian for $1 million, on the business school at George Washington University for $40 million, or on the new concert hall at the Strathmore Hall Arts Center in Montgomery County for $30 million. A bonus at Strathmore, which it hopes will be attractive to a corporate donor, comes in the form of seven big signs on nearby interstate highways.

Universities these days solicit one gift to name a building and another gift for the school it houses. The University of Maryland has the Robert H. Smith School of Business in Leo Van Munching Hall. The university was in the process of going after yet another gift to name a new wing to that building when Van Munching, an alumnus and New York beer distributor, decided to give an additional $6 million to keep the wing in the family.

A couple of wrinkles in the gift game that only an insider might know: Written agreements–which may include everything from a schedule of payments to the size and type style to be used in displaying the donor's name–may also include "decommissioning" clauses spelling out what happens if a building grows old and must be replaced. Another issue, assuming the husband is the lead donor, is whether his wife's name will appear on a building as well. One fundraiser says he usually jots only the husband's name on preliminary agreements because it's psychologically easier for him to add his wife's name than to strike it out.

Generosity has always been a good PR move, a strategy for polishing a tarnished image that is as old as the robber barons and as up-to-the-minute as Marc Rich. Modern public relations was invented by Ivy Lee, who convinced John D. Rockefeller to soften his reputation for ruthlessness by making a display of handing out dimes to children. Andrew Carnegie accomplished much the same by financing libraries in cities and towns and creating one of the country's first foundations, in 1911. There's always been a historical debate about whether Andrew Mellon's National Gallery owed less to generosity than to the fact it persuaded Franklin Roosevelt to halt Mellon's prosecution for tax evasion.

Artistic and cultural institutions are best positioned to deliver cachet for those interested in philanthropy for social climbing and entrée to the A-list life–a fact that peeves many of those who slog along in low-profile social-services agencies that serve the dispossessed. "If people are so easily doing all these million-dollar gifts," says one foundation executive, "I wish they'd consider some of the smaller but capable nonprofits that serve Latin American youth or drug addicts."

The social-climbing spectacle can be entertaining, as the career of Patricia Kluge suggests. When the telecommunications billionaire John Kluge met her at a New York fundraising event in 1981, he was 66 and she was 32. A striking woman born in Iraq, Patricia became Kluge's wife a year later, eventually moving to an estate of several thousand acres near Charlottesville and bearing him a son. There was some tacky publicity about her past along the way; she had once posed nude for a British magazine. The marriage broke up in 1991, but the divorce settlement gave her possession of a mansion on the Charlottesville estate and an annual stipend worth tens of millions.

The newly enriched and independent Patricia Kluge went on to become a person much sought after as a board member and potential donor. She's been on the board of the University of Virginia and New York University and is involved in a range of charities. Earlier this year the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, a cognitive-research center based at George Mason University, welcomed her with lavish praise to its board, where she will sit around the table with about a dozen former government officials and academics, including one Nobel laureate.

Donors are attracted to prestIgious institutions that know how to treat people with class. Institutions go to great lengths to give their biggest donors red-carpet treatment. Opening night at art exhibitions, theater cast parties, trips with an institution's chief executive all reinforce the sense that a donor is a VIP. The metaphor of the circle is often used to distinguish donors by level of generosity, the biggest contributors becoming members of an elite circle with the grandest name. At the Kennedy Center, those who contribute $250,000 or more over five years are in the "laureates' circle," while those who give $1,000 are mere "patrons."

In cultivating donors, a few Washington institutions play another status angle, which might be called the "national" card.

Notice, here in the nation's capital, that many of our institutions eschew local names. Nearly all of the Smithsonian's museums have National in their names, and we also have the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Cathedral, the National Gallery of Art, the Children's National Medical Center, the National Building Museum, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Which makes it possible to approach an out-of-town donor with the vision of rising above his hometown connections to make a mark on the national stage.

The Smithsonian is getting good at this, but nobody has gone national for quite so long as the National Gallery of Art. Over the past 60 years, nearly 150 individuals or foundations have each donated $2.5 million or more in money and art. About a dozen of them have strong ties to Washington, including Paul Mellon, Duncan Phillips, Eugene and Agnes Meyer, Robert and Clarice Smith, Joe and Barbara Allbritton, W. Averell Harriman, Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz, Jacob and Ruth Kainen, Pamela Harriman, Katharine Graham, and Richard and Lee Kirstein. But the bulk of the gallery's biggest donors are from out of town. That list includes Walter and Leonore Annenberg, David Rockefeller, John Whitehead, Robert and Anne Bass, Armand Hammer, and Robert and Jane Meyerhoff.


In the early 1980s, James Kimsey was a middle-aged West Point graduate who'd done three combat tours in Vietnam as an Army airborne ranger and a man best known around town as the owner of several restaurants, including a Capitol Hill watering hole called Bullfeathers. He was not the sort of guy you would expect to have his name inscribed on buildings as a great philanthropist. But that was before he became CEO of a little Northern Virginia company called Quantum Computer Services, which evolved into America Online, making Kimsey very rich.

Today, having retired from AOL and with his net worth measured in the hundreds of millions, Kimsey is the toast of the town, fawned over by fundraisers at every turn. He's often on hand at the city's big benefit galas, is frequently mentioned in the Washington Post's Style secton, and comes in as high bidder at charity auctions. He once paid $40,000 to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra.

He has his own foundation and has given $10 million to the Kennedy Center to support educational programs for DC children, endowed a tuba chair in the NSO, and made major contributions to the US Military Academy at West Point, the Washington Opera, and two DC private schools he attended, St. John's and Gonzaga. His résumé also lists seats on numerous governing boards and advisory groups, including those at the Washington Opera (where he is chair), the Kennedy Center, the NSO, Georgetown University, West Point, and the Library of Congress.

Kimsey's presence on so many boards is an indication of the central role they play in raising money. Institutions may have a charismatic chief executive, they may have a clever development office, but they also lean heavily on the men and women who volunteer to sit on their boards. They are expected to contribute money every year–as a way of setting an example for others–and to tap their network of contacts to bring in more. Big donations–called "leadership gifts"–often come from board members, especially from the chair.

Institutions look for qualities beyond deep pockets in recruiting board members. They want people with an interest in what the institution does; they want people of prominence; and they may want certain geographic and ethnic representation. A touch of glamour or fame doesn't hurt.

But nothing counts like the capacity to write a big check. Says one veteran board member: "On nominating committees, names of people come up who you know would make good board members, but they're passed over because they just don't have the resources."

It's strictly "pay to play." High-status boards, especially those of artistic and cultural organizations, are so attractive that they can afford to be explicit about the minimum contribution they expect each year. This is known as the "give or get" figure–or sometimes as the "give, get, or get off" figure. It's $25,000 at the Corcoran, $20,000 at the Washington Opera, $15,000 at the National Symphony Orchestra, $10,000 at Arena Stage, and $10,000 at the Washington Ballet.

This is a minimum, and many board members give more. It all adds up when you consider how big some boards have become. The National Symphony Orchestra, which has just over 80 board members, last year took in about $1 million from them.

One way around limitations in the size and representational requirements of governing boards is to establish secondary groups. A classic example is the Madison Council at the Library of Congress, which has no board of trustees at all; it's governed by a joint committee of Congress. The National Gallery of Art, in addition to its small board of trustees, has nearly 100 patrons on its Collectors Committee, and universities commonly have numerous advisory groups. All of these not only allow an institution to bring potential donors into its circle but sometimes serve as farm teams for their top-level boards.

The Smithsonian, with a board of regents restricted mostly to political appointees, milks secondary fundraising boards to the hilt. In addition to an institutionwide National Board of about 50 members, it has 24 advisory boards for its individual museums and other units, with 440 members in all.

Out of these groups have come some big gifts. Adrienne Mars, who gave that $5 million to the Air and Space Museum with her husband, has been on the Smithsonian's National Board for many years. Ivan Selin, a former government official and founder of American Management Systems who chairs an advisory board at the National Museum of American History, has given it $1 million.

No one better illustrates the nexus between board membership and philanthropy than the late David Lloyd Kreeger. Born in New York City and trained as a lawyer, Kreeger arrived in Washington during the New Deal and made his money after World War II by transforming Geico into a major insurance company. For decades he was one of Washington's leading cultural powers; he was chair of the board at the Corcoran (16 years), the Washington Opera (10 years), and the National Symphony Orchestra (8 years).

"There was a time you got on certain boards in Washington with a parking-lot appointment from David Lloyd Kreeger," says Bill McSweeny, a man who once handled Washington affairs for Armand Hammer of Occidental Petroleum and has served on many boards. "You'd run into Kreeger in the parking lot and he'd say, 'I think it's time you considered going on the Corcoran board.' "

Kreeger, who was an art collector and amateur violinist, donated millions of dollars to Washington institutions; his name graces a theater at Arena Stage, a music building at American University, and an auditorium at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville. After his death in 1990, his home on Foxhall Road, designed by Philip Johnson, was opened to the public as a museum.

Today it is not unusual for a wealthy Washingtonian to sit on half a dozen nonprofit boards–each one requiring a commitment of time as well as a big check. Out of that often comes a sense of personal satisfaction for the donor and the feeling of being part of an exclusive club.

That's something whose importance is recognized by everyone involved in the delicate art of cultivating big-time donors. "I think the very rich are in some ways just like everybody else," says a veteran fundraiser. "They enjoy making friends, and they want to feel that they are listened to, respected, and appreciated. They want to be liked for more than their net worth."

Great Gifts

Thousands of private donors have given hundreds of millions of dollars to the city's cultural and charitable institutions. Here are some of the biggest contributors.

DUNCAN PHILLIPS. Modern-art collector and heir to Pittsburgh steel fortune. Created the Phillips Collection, which includes Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party." (1921)

JAMES SMITHSON. British chemist and mineralogist. $508,318 estate to the US government to create in Washington a public institution for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge." (1836)

ROBERT AND CLARICE SMITH. Real-estate fortune. $15 million for business school and $15 million for performing-arts center, both at the University of Maryland in College Park, plus substantial gifts of money and paintings to the National Gallery of Art.

KENNETH BEHRING. California developer. $20 million to Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and $80 million to its National Museum of American History.

CAROLYN AGGER. Late wife of former US Supreme Court justice Abe Fortas. $7 million to the Kennedy Center for chamber-music programming.

EDWIN AND HELEN LYNCH. Fairfax real-estate developer. $6.7 million in house and land to George Mason University.

CHARLES FREER. Detroit railroad-car manufacturer. Oriental art collection and building for Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art. (1923)

POLO RALPH LAUREN CORP. $13 million to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History to refurbish and display the the two-centuries-old Star-Spangled Banner.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY. $7 million to Mount Vernon for a visitors center.

STEVE AND JEAN CASE. Chair of AOL Time Warner. $10 million to PowerUP, which aims to close the "digital divide" for underserved children, and $5 million to Special Olympics.

JAMES SCHLESINGER. Former Defense secretary. $1 million to Northern Virginia Community College for a concert hall and art gallery at its Alexandria campus named for his wife, Rachel, a violinist who died of cancer.

ANDREW CARNEGIE. Steel baron. Financed a public library for DC, the Organization of American States building, and Washington institutions devoted to science and world peace. (early 20th century)

JOHN AND ADRIENNE MARS. Candy fortune. $5 million to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum.

DAVID LLOYD KREEGER. Head of GEICO insurance company. Substantial support to the National Symphony Orchestra, the Corcoran, American University, and Arena Stage.

FRANK SINATRA. Archives of this icon of popular music will form the heart of a new music museum in downtown DC.

BILL AND MELINDA GATES. Microsoft founder. $1 billion for scholarships over 20 years to the Fairfax-based United Negro College Fund.

WILHELMINA AND WALLACE HOLLADAY. Real-estate development. Founders of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. (1987)

LASZLO TAUBER. Physician, real-estate developer, Holocaust survivor. $15 million for college scholarships to descendants of American veterans of World War II, $5 million of which went to George Washington University.

DONALD REYNOLDS. Foundation created by the late owner of a chain of newspapers and TV stations. $30 millionto the National Portrait Gallery to purchase and exhibit Gilbert Stuart's painting of George Washington.

JEROME LEMELSON. New Jersey inventor. $40 million from a foundation controlled by his widow, Dorothy, to Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

JOE E. ROBERT JR. Real-estate investor. $25 million to Children's Hospital.

GEORGIA O'KEEFFE. American painter. Gifts of her own work and 1,600 photos by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, to the National Gallery of Art.

HENRY CLAY FOLGER. Head of the company that became Mobil Oil. Building and collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library. (1932)

CATHERINE REYNOLDS. Founder of a Washington financial-services company dealing with student loans. $38 million to the Smithsonian's Museum of American History.

JAMES JOHNSON AND MAXINE ISAACS. He's former chair and CEO of Fannie Mae, now head of the boards at the Brookings Institution and the Kennedy Center; she was press secretary to Walter Mondale. $2 million to Brookings and $5 million to the Kennedy Center.

FRANK BATTEN SR. Retired chair of Landmark Communications. $60 million to the University of Virginia.

PHILIP MERRILL. Owner of The Washingtonian and the Annapolis Capital. $10 million to the journalism school at the University of Maryland in College Park and $7.5 million to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis for a new headquarters.

CYRUS AND MYRTLE KATZEN. Dentist, banker, real-estate developer. $5-million collection of modern art and $10 million to build a new center for the performing arts at American University.

BOB AND DOLORES HOPE. 89,000-page joke collection to the Library of Congress.

NAN TUCKER MCEVOY. San Francisco newspaper heir. $10 million to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum.

WALTER AND LEONORE ANNENBERG. Philadelphia publishing executive. $5 million to WETA.

WILLIAM WILSON CORCORAN. Founder of Riggs Bank. Created Washington's first art museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art. (1869)

ROBERT PITTMAN AND BARRY SCHULER. AOL Time Warner executives. $30 million to Corcoran Gallery of Art for its new addition by Frank Gehry.

FUJIFILM. $7.8 million for new panda exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

MARK ROTHKO FOUNDATION. Abstract expressionist. 285 of his works to the National Gallery of Art.

KATHARINE GRAHAM. Former chair of the Washington Post Company. Support for renovation of an auditorium at the Freer Gallery named after her parents, Eugene and Agnes Meyer, and $1 million for its education programs.

MELLON FAMILY. Andrew Mellon, a Pittsburgh financier and Treasury secretary, gave his art collection and the original building to create the National Gallery of Art (1941). His daughter, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, along with his son, Paul Mellon, paid for the East Building. Paul, who died in 1999, gave more than 1,000 pieces of art to the gallery.

INDIAN TRIBES. Gambling-rich Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans. $10 million each to the Smithsonian's soon-to-be-built National Museum of the American Indian.

DIANE AND STEPHEN GOLDBERG. Real-estate money. She's head of the fundraising campaign at Children's Hospital. $25 million to Children's.

J.B. AND MAURICE SHAPIRO. Suburban Maryland real-estate developers. Nearly $10 million from their charitable trust to George Washington University.

DAVID AND LUCILE PACKARD FOUNDATION. Cofounder of Hewlett-Packard. $10 million to acquire a film-preservation facility for the Library of Congress.

SEAN "PUFFY" COMBS. Rap artist and producer. $750,000 to Howard University, his alma mater.

TARGET STORES. $6.5 million to restore the Washington Monument.

OLIVE SWINDELLS. Middle-class Baltimore woman, made money in stock market; husband was deaf. $4 million to Gallaudet University.

JOSEPH AND ALMA GILDENHORN. Real-estate developer. $2 million to the University of Maryland at College Park for recital hall in a new performing-arts center.

ROBERT AND MILDRED BLISS. Independently wealthy diplomatic couple. Dumbarton Oaks mansion in Georgetown, along with its magnificent gardens, for use as a center for pre-Columbian and Byzantine art. (1940)

ROBERT MCDONOUGH. California temp-agency owner. $30 million to Georgetown University for business school.

DANIEL SNYDER. Redskins owner. $5 million to Children's Hospital.

CATHERINE FILENE SHOUSE. Heir to Boston retailing fortune. Land for the Wolf Trap center for the performing arts. (1966)

VIRGINIA GREGORY THOMAS. Oil heir and Montgomery County landowner. $15 million to Washington National Cathedral and $7.5 million to St. Albans School.

CHARLES E. SMITH. Founder of the Smith real-estate empire. His name is on the athletic arena at George Washington University and a Jewish school in Rockville.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG. Founder of Bloomberg Business News. $100 million to Johns Hopkins University, where he is chair of the board.

KIPLINGER FAMILY. Publishers of financial-advice magazine and newsletters. Substantial gifts to the National Symphony Orchestra, WETA, the Levine School of Music, and a new museum of DC history.

BETTY BROWN CASEY. Widow of suburban Maryland real-estate developer Eugene Casey. $100 million to DC government to restore city's trees and build a mayor's residence. $18 million to buy Woodies department store for Washington Opera, a project later abandoned.

PAMELA HARRIMAN. Widow of Averell Harriman and ambassador to France. Gift of Vincent van Gogh's "White Roses," perhaps worth as much as $80 million, to the National Gallery of Art.

CHARLES KOCH. Wichita industrialist. $10 million for the study of market-oriented solutions to social and economic problems at George Mason University.

WILLIAM A. CLARK. Copper-mine operator and US senator from Montana. Major collection to the Corcoran Gallery of Art. (1925)

HERBERT AND HELEN AXELROD. New Jersey publishers of books on tropical fish and other pets. $64 million in gifts of musical instruments to Smithsonian's Museum of American History, including two violins, a viola, and a cello made by Stradivarius.

JAMES KIMSEY. Founding CEO of America Online. $10 million to the Kennedy Center and other gifts to the Washington Opera, St. John's High, and Gonzaga High.

PAUL PECK. Investor and US Customs Service manager. $2 million to the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

BETSY AND JOHN HAY WHITNEY. New York publisher. Works by Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matise, and others to the National Gallery of Art.

ROCKEFELLER FAMILY. Heirs to oil fortune. $2.5 million to WETA.

RICHARD AND LOIS ENGLAND. She's a Hechinger; he was a top executive of the company. $1 million to the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs.

CITY OF TOKYO. Cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin. (1912)

MORRIS AND GWENDOLYN CAFRITZ FOUNDATION. Real-estate developer. More than $10 million for the National Gallery of Art's new sculpture garden on the Mall.

JOHN KLUGE. Founder of Metromedia. $60 million to the Library of Congress; 7,300 acres of land and buildings to University of Virginia.

LADISLAUS VON HOFFMANN. Retired Washington businessman. $1 million to acquire and renovate building for the Levine School of Music.

YASUHIRO AND HIROKO GOH. Japanese businessman. $1.5 million to the Phillips Collection to build an annex.

ENID ANNENBERG HAUPT. Publishing heir. Victorian garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. (1987)

JERRY JONES. Owner of Dallas Cowboys. $1 million to the Library of Congress.

MARJORIE MERRIWEATHER POST. Heir to Post cereal fortune. Her Hillwood mansion is now a public museum. (1973)

ROBERT AND ARLENE KOGOD. She's the daughter of Charles E. Smith; he's one of the real-estate company's top executives. $10 million to the business school at American University.

ERIC HOTUNG. Hong Kong businessman. $5 million to Georgetown University Law Center.

ARMAND HAMMER. Head of Occidental Petroleum. Millions in cash and art to the National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Symphony Orchestra, and Ford's Theatre.

ARTHUR M. SACKLER. New York medical researcher and publisher. Oriental art collection to the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. (1987)

FREEDOM FORUM. Created from stock in the Gannett Corp. Will spend $250 million building a new version of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

JACK KENT COOKE. Late Redskins owner. About $500 million from sale of the team funds a foundation to support education.

ROGER AND VICKI SANT. Cofounder of AES, a global energy company. $5 million to the National Symphony Orchestra and $800,000 to the National Zoo for new giant pandas.

GILBERT AND JAYLEE MEAD. Heirs to paper-company fortune. Gifts to several theaters, including Arena Stage and Studio Theatre.

ALBERT SMALL. Real estate and engineering. Rare historical documents and library to the University of Virginia. Also supports DC history museum and Jewish-history projects.

ALBERTO VILAR. New York high-tech investor. $50 million to the Kennedy Center for ballet and opera performances and $8 million to the Washington Opera.

JOSEPH HIRSHHORN. Uranium-mining magnate and art collector. Collection given to the Smithsonian to create the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. (1974)

BENDER FAMILY. Real-estate and construction fortune. American University's athletic arena and library are named for them.

TED LEONSIS. America Online executive and owner of the Washington Capitals. $1 million to Georgetown University, his alma mater.

WINTON BLOUNT. Alabama businessman and former head of the US Postal Service. $10 million to the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum.

PEOPLE OF SAUDI ARABIA. Gift arranged by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi ambassador to the US. $4 million to Children's Hospital.

JEONG KIM. High-tech entrepreneur. $5 million to the University of Maryland, $1 million to Johns Hopkins.

WARREN ROBBINS. Foreign Serviceofficer and collector. His collection launched the Smithsonian's Museum of African Art. (1987)

NAOMI AND NEHEMIAH COHEN FOUNDATION. He was a cofounder of Giant Food. $4 million to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

PAUL SINGER. New Jersey psychiatrist. Collection of 5,000 ancient Chinese art objects valued at $60 million to the Arthur Sackler Gallery. Part of the gift also supported by Sackler's heir and his foundation.

EUGENE AND AGNES E. MEYER FOUNDATION. Kay Graham's parents; he bought the Washington Post in 1933. Foundation has given more than $90 million to area institutions.

HENRY LUCE FOUNDATION. Time founder. $10 million to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum.

MARRIOTT FAMILY. Founders of hotel chain. Donations support the disabled, the Boy Scouts, Georgetown University, and the National Zoo's new pandas.

STEVEN UDVAR-HAZY. Owner of a California aircraft-leasing company. $65 million to the Smithsonian for a second air-and-space museum, this one at Dulles Airport.



























Universities lead the list when it comes to endowments.

Johns Hopkins U. $1.825 billion
U. of Virginia $1.739 billion
Smithsonian $750 million
Georgetown U. $745 million
George Washington U. $738 million
National Gallery of Art $561 million
U. of Maryland System $499 million
Howard U. $308 million
Brookings Institution $210 million
American U. $165 million
Catholic U. $141 million
National Geographic $101 million
National Trust for
Historic Preservation $100 million
Jewish Federation
of Greater Washington $100 million
Kennedy Center and
National Symphony $85 million
National Cathedral $73 million
Heritage Foundation $70 million
George Mason U. $34 million
Phillips Collection $21 million

The National Gallery is tops among arts institutions.


Looking for Money

Washinton's cultural institutions are in the midst of a building boom. Just opened are the National Gallery of Art's sculpture garden and a new performing-arts center at the University of Maryland, with a new DC convention center and a visitors center for the Capitol under way. Here are other projects in store, most requiring millions of dollars in private donations.

CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART. Superstar architect Frank Gehry's curvaceous design for an addition to the Beaux Arts gallery set off shock waves of awe and opposition.

KENNEDY CENTER. New plans suggest an 11-acre plaza over the expressway east of the center to accommodate opera rehearsal space and a performing-arts museum.

STRATHMORE HALL. This arts center between Bethesda and Rockville is adding a 2,000-seat concert hall.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN. A new Smithsonian museum just east of the Air and Space Museum will house collections on Native American culture.

DC HISTORY MUSEUM. Washington's Historical Society will renovate the Carnegie Library, near the new convention center, to create a museum for local history exhibits.

AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM AT DULLES. This new Smithsonian museum–the length of three football fields–will house 300 airplanes and spacecraft.

MUSIC MUSEUM. The Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, and Federal City Council are working on a downtown-DC museum to showcase American music.

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE. The reopened Silver Theater in Silver Spring will include a new AFI venue.

WOLF TRAP. It's adding a new education center and rehearsal space for its opera company.

NEWSEUM. This media museum plans to move from Rosslyn to a bigger new building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

PHILLIPS COLLECTION. An addition will include a cafe, an auditorium, and an education center.

The Kennedy Center wish list includes a plaza out front.


A new Indian museum will take last spot on the Mall.


What It Costs

Here are the going rates to be a player in Washington philanthropy, including the cost of getting your name on something, a seat on a governing board, or tickets to a classy event.

HOSPITAL. To rename Children's National Medical Center. $100 million.

DISTINGUISHED PROFESSORSHIP. Naming opportunity at Georgetown University. $5 million.

BOARD SEAT. Corcoran Gallery of Art. Expected contribution of $25,000 to $100,000.

ATHLETIC ARENA. Comcast paid $25 million to name a new field house at the University of Maryland's College Park campus.

GOLF TOURNAMENT. Top corporate sponsorship at Washington Hospital Center's annual event. $25,000.

PIANO. A brass plaque on it bears your name. Levine School of Music. $4,000.

MONOGRAMMED SIDEWALK BRICK. Available to alumni at Howard University. $50 or $100.

MUSEUM SHOP. Naming opportunity at the National Museum of the American Indian. $1 million.

NAME CHISELED IN STONE. At the entrance to the National Gallery of Art. $2.5 million or more in cash or art.

FLOWERS. Memorial bouquet in a chapel every Sunday forever. Washington National Cathedral. $50,000.

REDSKINS BROADCAST. Meet Sonny Jurgensen, Sam Huff, and Frank Herzog, then watch a TV broadcast from the truck. Sold at Sidwell Friends School auction. $1,800.

BLACK-TIE DINNER. Two tickets to dinner and the opening performance of the Washington Opera's season. $3,280.

TELEVISION STUDIO. Naming opportunity at Brookings Institution. $1 million.

OPENING-NIGHT CAST PARTY. Shakespeare Theatre. $500 or more.

BUSINESS SCHOOL. To name George Washington University's. $40 million.

PRIVATE LUNCH. With Eric Schaeffer, artistic director of Signature Theatre. Among benefits of a $5,000 donation.

CONCERT HALL. To name Strathmore Hall Arts Center's. $30 million.

CENTER FOR ADVANCED STUDIES. Naming opportunity at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. $25 million.

GALA TICKETS. Dinner and two orchestra seats for the annual Kennedy Center Honors. $5,000.

Corcoran gets $25,000 for a seat on its board.


Party with the opera's Plácido Domingo.


Favorite Charities

United way and the combined federal campaign in Washington took in just over $88 million last year. Here are the institutions that attracted the most money from donors.

So Others Might Eat $999,791
Whitman-Walker Clinic (AIDS Program) $828,507
Children's Hospital $619,800
House of Ruth $606,153
United Negro College Fund $601,199
Boy Scouts of America $562,755
Catholic Charities (Washington Archdiocese) $504,217
Catholic Charities (Arlington Diocese) $491,554
Hospice of Northern Virginia $484,462
Make-a-Wish Foundation $466,390
Martha's Table/McKenna's Wagon $445,926
St. Ann's Infant and Maternity Home $395,170
WETA $351,349
American Cancer Society (Northern Virginia) $311,783
Planned Parenthood $267,405
HEROES $234,699
Food & Friends $212,355
Multiple Sclerosis Society (Washington area) $211,884
Jewish Social Service Agency $211,096
Boys and Girls Clubs $198,242

Source: United Way of the National Capital Area