About the Copley institute

TCI’s Vision

Philanthropy at its best represents a synergy born of the highest intentions of nonprofits on the one side and donors on the other. At TCI we see philanthropy as an intricate web of relationships that are indispensable to sustaining a healthy society. When it is working, the enterprise of philanthropy becomes an elemental force in the betterment of communities.

The vision of TCI is that forces within philanthropy that have gotten out of balance can be brought back into balance if the appropriate strategies and resources are applied where they are most needed. We seek to serve those organizations, family foundations and corporate giving programs that are being negatively impacted by current trends in philanthropy. The work of tCi is focused on providing solutions to a series of interconnected problems that threaten to undermine the critical role of philanthropy in our communities:

  • As the number of nonprofits increases, so does the number that are not as effectively run as they could be. Problems with effective leadership, stewardship of mission and resources, donor and constituent relations and efficiency compromise many organizations. While in some cases these difficulties are most certainly related to poor choices and gross mismanagement, more often it is a matter of an incomplete understanding of how to structure fundraising to create the synergy that inspires the best in people. With the right knowledge and insight, many organizations could better deliver upon the worthwhile mission that was originally envisioned and keep it relevant with the passage of time.

  • With more and more organizations to choose from, donors face an increasing risk of investing in one that is poorly run. It is more complex to identify what constitutes a “good” organization – “good” is no longer just a synonym for “worthy.” It has expanded to a series of new connotations: a good match, a good investment of resources, effectively and efficiently run, accountable.

  • The natural beneficiaries of this increased proliferation are, ironically, larger, more established nonprofits. From the perspective of a donor, the nonprofit sector can easily appear like the field of runners at the starting line of a marathon. It is easy to identify the small group of elite front-runners, but beyond that it quickly becomes an indistinguishable mass of bodies in running shorts and shoes. Donors are more likely to take the seemingly safe route of selecting recipients from the elite field of front-runners, in lieu of embarking on a matching and selection process that has become increasingly unwieldy.

  • Among the larger nonprofits, the super institutions are growing the fastest, sometimes at the direct expense of other vital but less visible organizations. The super medical centers, universities and a small number of major cultural organizations have been able to capitalize on their visibility and credibility to build fundraising machines to undertake massive capital projects that essentially suck the available oxygen out of the air. It is no wonder that at the same time, many small and medium-sized nonprofits find themselves having to operate on thinner air as they experience a steady decline in all three major categories of giving: individuals, foundations and corporations.

  • A continuation of current trends will mean the loss of organizations and services that are fundamental to the fabric of our communities. At TCI we believe that strength should not necessarily be a function of size or credibility a function of visibility. We value the broad range of nonprofit organizations that are interwoven into the fabric of communities. We understand
    that some of the most worthwhile organizations are suffering as a result of their inability to compete with the fundraising budgets of larger institutions.

TCI’s Mission

The mission of the Copley institute is:

  • To assist nonprofits to become as effective and efficient as possible
  • To ensure that donors have more choices and more comfort with their choices
  • To promote all sectors working together with increased understanding and empathy, thus creating opportunities for more meaningful collaboration.

TCI’s Core Values

We believe that successful philanthropy can create win-win situations for all participants in all sectors of society. At the THE COPLEY INSTITUTE we are continually striving to improve and expand both the awareness and the practice of philanthropy by promoting knowledge, effectiveness, collaboration and commitment for all participants. We promote philanthropy through:

  • Our passion for sharing our understanding of the ways philanthropy enhances society
  • A commitment to creative and innovate problem solving
  • The application of research and data-driven solutions to the practice of philanthropy
  • Continually evaluating and learning from our work
  • Ongoing educational efforts and dissemination of information that promote best practices

TCI’s Approach

TCI is not a company where the real expertise of the founders never makes it through your door. We do not send out junior consultants who, though nimble when they are implementing their company’s formula for successful fundraising, nonetheless stumble over their lack of experience and insight when the formula doesn’t seem to be working. Our goal is to provide you only with extensive first-hand knowledge and experience. You have the assurance that you will be offered flexible solutions, not rigid formulas. Our approach is collaborative – we listen first and provide ample opportunity for dialogue regarding our process, findings, conclusions and recommendations.

TCI’s Principals

Dwight R. Lueth, founder of THE COPLEY INSTITUTE, has spent over 35 years assisting nonprofits. As principal of Dwight R. Lueth Associates, a full-service fundraising consulting firm, he has consulted to over 150 nonprofits and worked closely with dozens of foundations and corporations. His areas of expertise include strategic planning, direct marketing, donor giving programs, foundation grantsmanship, board development and capital campaigns. In addition, he has held many volunteer positions on nonprofit boards and municipal oversight committees. Mr. Lueth is also a speaker on philanthropy and trends affecting the current giving environment. He has offered a series of seminars and workshops for nonprofits aimed at advancing leadership and organizational development.

Sharon L. Baker, PhD, co-founder of THE COPLEY INSTITUTE, joined Dwight R. Lueth Associates in 2000 and has since played a key role in shaping our initiatives. Trained as a social scientist and researcher, Sharon spent the first part of her career working in academic medical centers where she conducted and published research studies, taught and trained professional staff. Her interest in organizational effectiveness led her to consulting where she has worked extensively with nonprofit leaders and boards. She has developed tools to help nonprofits conduct self-assessments, improve their grantsmanship and implement outcome evaluations.

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