Time, talent, and treasure at the American Museum of Natural History

We are going to begin opening up the blog to LittleSis analysts over the next few months in order to offer more of a platform for their work and analysis and showcase the many ways in which the site is used. If you are an analyst and are interested in contributing, please drop Kevin a note.

Today’s post is by WileECoyote, an analyst who found LittleSis before it had even launched and has made steady and valuable contributions ever since. Wile E. is a fundraiser, and below details insights gleaned from research on the board of the American Museum of Natural History.

It took a bit of time over the last week to place all of the 50 Trustees of the American Museum of Natural History onto LittleSis, but it was an interesting process. As someone who has spent a career in fund raising and higher education, the group seems almost a perfect balance of the “time, talent or treasure” we typically ask a board member to contribute to our causes.

The AMNR board has an interesting mix of corporate power, celebrity and wealth. Because some of that wealth goes back four or even five generations it was especially interesting to document.

The AMNR board also reflects old and new trends in putting such a group together. There are a number of spouses of billionaires, who presumably have the time to put into the cause. And there are younger professionals who expand the organization’s network and add diversity. The board also represents both political parties, but clearly recognizes those ascending in influence.

Many would be surprised to find few people who are actually experts in natural history among the trustees, but that is fairly typical of not-for-profit boards. Separate scientific advisory groups are often filled with academics who benefit professionally with their association with the organization while being insulated from the fund raising activities of the larger board.

Fund raising is filled with rules of thumb – and one is that a board for an institution such as AMNR has to look to their board for as much as 1/3 to ½ of their annual fund raising total. I suspect this board can relied upon to provide more than that.

Please check the interlocks and giving, and you may find some of the other leading nonprofits in New York worthy of some attention!