LETTER FROM THE EDITOR, Sophisticated Giving 2022
I don’t remember when I first got comfortable with asking people for money, I just recall that it has always seemed pretty easy. Maybe it is because I never ask someone to support an organization unless I have made a financial commitment first, or maybe it is because I was on the receiving end of charitable dollars for so long that my endless appreciation inspires enthusiasm. Over the years, working to raise awareness and funds for good works in our community has become a passion, and I have great gratitude and respect for others who do it - either professionally or as a fundraising volunteer.
A development director once told me, “Amelia, first you get their hands, then you get their heart, and then the wallet.” The idea, of course, is that donors are best developed from volunteers who have actively engaged with the mission of an organization; after all, those are the people who have seen first-hand how the community is impacted. It’s a smart strategy but runs the risk of de-emphasizing the importance of opening the wallet.
Years ago, when I was working on the leadership team of a significant capital campaign, I was assigned the task of reaching out to specific fellow volunteers to request a multi-year pledge. One meeting was with a woman I knew well, who had committed many hours to the organization over the years. It was an ask, I thought, that would be simple. To my surprise, she was completely opposed to making a financial contribution, citing her contribution of time, a valuable commodity for anyone. When I suggested to her that her money was equally, if not more, important to supporting the mission, she called me a bully. Mortified, I called the development director who assuaged my concern and told me if that is a bully, he’d like to have a few more.
One of my favorite writers and speakers is a Jesuit priest by the name of Father Gregory Boyle. “Father G,” as he is known to his parishioners, is the founder and director of Homeboy Industries, the world's largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program. He is also author of several books, including Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, a recollection of his 20+ years working in one of the most marginalized communities in the country, in south-central Los Angeles. Father G has lived his life in the service of others, but he is keenly aware of the importance of, as well as the differences between, donations of time versus donations of money. As he often says, “You don’t go to the margins to make a difference, you go to the margins to make you different.”
Father G’s memoir and his perspective on how hands-on service transforms us has informed my volunteer efforts as well as my financial gifts. Now, when I look for opportunities to serve, it is truly with a mind for how my heart will be changed, or my eyes and mind opened. When I give money, it is about recognizing that someone who is informed and equipped to do an important work needs cold hard cash to get it done. Time and money. Friends, sometimes it seems like we can never have enough of either one - I get it. But here’s to the ones who recognize that our most valuable commodities can and should be shared, because in the end, it isn’t just about bettering the community we live in, it is also about bettering ourselves.
Welcome to the 6th annual edition of Sophisticated Giving Columbus, which is easily my favorite project every year. Special thanks to our friends at the Columbus Foundation (our presenting sponsor), whose leadership has helped Columbus to become one of the most generous cities in the United States and the Central Ohio Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, whose National Philanthropy Day event is one of the largest in the country. New with this edition is the inclusion of the annual National Philanthropy Day award-winners, content we have looked forward to sharing in our pages for several years.
It is our hope that each of these annual registers will become a guide for anyone seeking opportunities to initiate and develop a relationship with charitable organizations in central Ohio. Best wishes as you identify where you will share your gifts of time, talent, and treasure, and if you are so inclined, reach out to let us know where you land!
P.S. For more information about Father Gregory Boyle, S.J., visit homeboyindustries.org.