CFO exec on mission for philanthropy
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 7:30 AM
Michael Chatman is on a mission to grow generosity in the Ozarks.
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Community Foundations of the Ozarks' senior vice president of philanthropy spoke this morning on the giving spirit of area residents in a live interview with Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson as part of the monthly 12 People You Need to Know series.
In his role, Chatman seeks to work with donors in the region to tap into philanthropic resources and cultivate giving. He also is tasked with building CFO's discretionary income used for causes not earmarked by donors.
"We as a community foundation seek to raise the level of generosity throughout the Ozarks and to increase the pool of givers so our nonprofits in the area can benefit and be the recipients of that generosity," Chatman said of the 44 affiliate foundations under the banner of CFO. "What is not widely known about what we do at the foundation is that even though we bring in millions of dollars in contributions each year, not a lot of that money provides us with discretionary income to meet needs in the community.
"Most of the people who come to us - the donors or the nonprofits - we're the vehicle, the conduit, but that money is pretty much designated," he added. "I do raise money for those discretionary issues that go beyond what our donors designate their dollars for."
CFO issued some $20 million last year in contributions and grants, and holds $200 million in assets, figures Chatman said fall on both the generosity of the community and work of the foundation’s staff. He pointed to a Philathropy.com study “How America Gives,” which indicates Springfield was the most generous city in the state, with residents giving 6.6 percent of their discretionary income, which represented about $54.3 million in 2012.
"Our secret sauce really is in our thought leadership. We know the community, we have knowledge, we can help donors vet charities that are having the greatest level of impact," said Chatman, who moved into the newly created position in March 2012.
On an individual level, Chatman uses social media as a vehicle to deliver philanthropic messages, and his thoughts have taken hold. His Twitter account - @MichaelChatman - boasts more than 228,000 followers, up from 63,000 in December.
He notes he brought to Twitter former followers of his radio program, “The Michael Chatman Giving Show,” which had aired on the Wall Street Business Network.
On Tuesday nights, he leads a tweet chat using the hashtag #WhyIGive, which he says has taken on a life of its own, showcasing the reasoning behind people’s philanthropic efforts worldwide.
He notes 35 percent of people point to faith as an indicator for why they give.