National Review Institute

Case Study

Overall fundraising revenue increase of nearly 8X

From FY 2014 to FY 2019, National Review Institute increased its revenue from $761,000 to nearly $6 million and grew the size of its active donor base by 13X. American Philanthropic began working with National Review Institute (NRI) in fall 2013 to assist with the creation of an organizational strategic plan. Once completed, NRI hired American Philanthropic to help build and manage a comprehensive development program for the Institute.

National Review magazine (NR) was originally founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1955 and has long enjoyed a powerful brand and loyal readership. In 1991, Buckley founded National Review Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) journalistic think-tank, to advance the principles he championed and complement the magazine’s mission by supporting NR’s best talent.

Following the arrival of its new president Lindsay Craig in 2013, NRI hired American Philanthropic to create a strategic plan. In so doing, we helped the Institute clarify its mission, identify and launch core programs, and create a comprehensive development program to support the Institute’s objectives. A subsequent and updated strategic plan was created in 2015 when the Institute, after early success, initiated a major institutional transformation. At that time, NRI and National Review Inc. became one legal entity: the magazine and website—corporately National Review, Inc.—became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Institute. This reorganization took place to ensure the long-term viability and continuing influence of the National Review enterprise—in an increasingly difficult publishing environment.  

Early in the engagement, American Philanthropic helped NRI start an individual donor program, systematically converting longtime NR subscribers and past supporters to new NRI donors. By developing foundation solicitation, direct mail, and planned giving programs, as well as a new—and highly successful—“1955 Society” donor club for supporters at the $1,000+ level, NRI began raising record-setting revenue. Our firm also advised NRI’s president in hiring talented development staff, increasing its own internal fundraising capacity. Thanks to American Philanthropic, NRI has established a solid financial footing by significantly growing and diversifying its donor base, positioning it for even greater growth as it looks out to 2025 which marks Bill Buckley’s 100th birthday, the 70th anniversary of National Review, and the 10th anniversary of the enterprise’s restructuring.  

In a short period of time, American Philanthropic helped NRI create an efficient development program that focuses on the basics of good fundraising: acquiring donors and cultivating them over time. While our contribution to NRI’s bottom line has been dramatic, we don’t work in a vacuum. The willingness of NRI’s impressive leadership and staff to implement our recommendations is equally important to the quality of the consulting we offer. American Philanthropic’s partnership with NRI has produced impressive results, and we look forward to even greater success in the coming years.

American Philanthropic is registered as fundraising counsel or as a fundraising consultancy in all states that require such registration. This means that we are not “fundraisers”: we do not ask people for money on our clients’ behalf, make personal introductions, make phone calls, or otherwise have direct personal contact with your donors or donor prospects. We tee you up to do those things, and to do them more effectively, by advising you, coaching you, and providing the services outlined in this proposal. Our goal is to help you build your development program so that it becomes stronger and more sustainable, and to put you in position to build your own strong, personal relationships with funders.