A donor is asked for a major gift to create and name a gallery at a major museum
Will the gallery meet the high expectations of the donor?
A client of ours was approached by a museum, which asked him for a donation to support the construction of a new gallery. If our client was inclined to make the gift, the museum promised to name the gallery after him. The client, an enthusiast of the subject matter to be displayed in the gallery, was eager to proceed with the donation but asked us for guidance before doing so.
We called the museum and spoke directly with its executive director to learn about the organization’s plans for the gallery. Among other things, we inquired about the museum’s budget for building out and operating the gallery. In reviewing the budget, we had a concern that the budget didn’t seem to include all of the project’s costs. We conducted a site visit and found that the museum had not budgeted for educational programs in the new gallery, nor had it budgeted for annual operating expenses and the occasional “refreshing” the gallery would require over its planned 25-year life.
In the end, we encouraged the museum to develop a more realistic budget that would include both the gallery’s maintenance and any educational programs that would be required. If the gallery would be associated with our client’s name, we believed it was important to ensure that it wouldn’t fall into disrepair or fail to operate in a high-quality manner. Under our guidance, a new budget was prepared that was more feasible, and the project was better positioned for success. There was one hitch: The cost of the project had tripled. Still, our client was thrilled at the significantly improved project that would bear his name, and he gladly made a much larger gift.
Our client attended the grand opening of the gallery, which was a huge success. As a result of our research and counsel, our client found great joy and fulfillment in this charitable gift.
Our client’s gift was larger than the original request, but the project was improved and he was enormously pleased with the results.