In Memory of Robert F. Sharpe Jr.
The nonprofit world lost a visionary on February 4th with the death of Robert Sharpe Jr. His impact on the fundraising success of thousands of charities would be hard to quantify…though those who knew Robert well would be assured he could do so with a few intricate and detailed charts and graphs.
Robert’s storied career as a consultant, educator, highly sought-after speaker and writer spanned four generations. He first joined Sharpe Group (then known as Robert F. Sharpe & Company) full time in 1982 after serving as a nonprofit development officer at Rhodes College and briefly practicing law at Heiskell Donelson (now Baker Donelson).
His father, Robert Sharpe Sr., was a pioneer in the field of planned giving. Sharpe Sr.’s eponymous company, founded in 1963, had made a name for itself in the fundraising community primarily for its communications materials and training.
With Robert Jr. on board as president, the company expanded its offerings and its footprint. Sharpe Group provided consulting, seminar training, printed communications and websites to thousands of charities of all sizes and missions across the country. He’s credited with reimagining the term “planned giving” into, what was a more apt description in his mind, “gift planning.” According to Robert, incorporating the “who and the why” of the giving process made this nuance necessary. As usual, when Robert spoke, the nonprofit community listened.
Robert’s love and passion for his work was evident to all who knew him. Though he will be greatly missed, his legacy and influence will live on for generations.
Long-time colleague and lifelong friend Barlow Mann remembers Robert’s legacy in this blog post.
Read a tribute to Robert in The NonProfit Times here.