The Origins of Modern American Fundraising: Where It Comes From and Why It Matters


May 22, 2024
11:30am – 1:00pm

United Way of Southern Nevada
Cost: $45/$60


This program has been approved for 1.25 CFRE credits.

During the American Civil War, hundreds of thousands of soldiers were saved from disease, injury and death by tens of thousands of civilians whose collective response changed the course of the War and the aftermath.  These noncombatants achieved this through volunteering, volunteer leadership and charitable giving, a precursor to our modern fundraising models and language.

In the story of this movement, we find a window onto our culture today.  It offers us a deeper understanding of the nonprofit sector, the fundraising profession and ourselves.  Martin Novom’s research into this fascinating and forgotten chapter of American history reveals how famous national figures and local unknown activists paved the way for the beliefs, values, and elements that fundraisers and philanthropists embrace today.

Learning Objectives

  1.  To explore the historical context and evolution of fundraising during the American Civil War, highlighting the pivotal role played by civilians in volunteering, leadership, and charitable giving, and how these practices laid the groundwork for modern fundraising models and language.
  2. To analyze the impact of the Civil War-era fundraising efforts on shaping contemporary attitudes, beliefs, and practices within the nonprofit sector and the fundraising profession, drawing parallels between historical figures and present-day philanthropic endeavors.
  3. To highlight the significance of understanding the origins of modern American fundraising in order to gain insight into our cultural heritage, societal values, and individual identities, emphasizing the relevance of historical narratives in informing and inspiring contemporary philanthropic initiatives.

About the Speaker

Martin L. NovomMartin L. Novom is a fundraiser, educator, coach, and author. Most recently with the University of Maine Foundation, he has held senior fundraising positions in education, healthcare, and public broadcasting. Through the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, which he founded, Martin has advised a wide range of nonprofits and nonprofit leaders across the US and Canada. An AFP Master Trainer, he receives high marks for conference speaking, both for AFP and other educational organizations. He was the lead author and editor of the AFP/Wiley book, “The Fundraising Feasibility Study: It’s Not About the Money.”

Ever curious, and always a deep thinker, Martin has developed a wide-ranging set of questions about fundraising and philanthropy. When he turned to the study of American philanthropy in depth, he completed a master’s degree in history at the University of Maine. His thesis was devoted to the Civil War and its role in shaping modern fundraising practice.

He is currently developing a popular history book about this topic and uses his experience and insights to coach and inspire fundraising and nonprofit professionals and volunteer leaders.

Event Details

Date: May 22, 2024

Start time: 11:30 a.m. PDT

End time: 01:00 p.m. PDT

Venue: United Way of Southern Nevada

Directions: 5830 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89103