Cares a Whole Awful Lot

by | Apr 9, 2015

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” That’s sage advice from one of the most popular children’s authors of all time, Dr. Seuss.

Giving to the causes you care “a whole awful lot about” should be easy. It should feel good – even great. Sadly, the philanthropy landscape is littered with disappointed donors who did not feel good about their giving decisions. They have not found joy in their giving.

For most giving is not particularly complicated.  We know the organizations and causes we care about; and we write checks to support events or make an annual gift during the year. Donor intent isn’t about gift size.  The joy of giving isn’t about gift size.

The organizations and causes we give to love us.  They add all the gifts together – large and small. When we’re happy, they’re happy.

Recently I was sorting through a small stack of items and came across the invitation to a gala for a youth camp called Camp Tyler.  I knew we wouldn’t be attending the gala, but I attended this camp during elementary years and still have fond memories.

While I was at Camp Tyler I learned a lot of stuff from the size of Paul Bunyan’s trousers to how to write a check (a valued skill in the mid- sixties).

So, I decided to use that skill and make a donation.  The size of the gift is not noteworthy, but I feel good about it.  I hope the kids who go today are learning things that will be useful into adulthood.  It’s one simple action on my way to the joy of giving.

In February I experienced giving joy at the Women’s Fund of Smith County check presentation event where my membership gift joined with 240 other women to become $144,000 in two grants to Habitat for Humanity of Smith County and PATH.   That day was full of joy. It wasn’t complicated to make it happen.

I do admit giving is more complex as the size of the check increases.  There are more choices, giving vehicles, legal terms, and rules. The complexities leave some who can give big to ignore the opportunity all together. The result of avoidance is never experiencing the joy of giving.

If you have a toe in the water to experiment with different types of complex giving you may have sought advice from various advisors.  Risk assessment often takes center stage in the discussion, after which you may have more anxiety than anticipation.

If your giving decisions are more complex use this tip to get to the other side of the anxiety. Answer the question “why does this organization or cause matter to me?”  The question should not be taken lightly or left to shallow exploration. For most of us the “why” is like deep water drilling.  You might have to dig more than one hole to find the real reason.

The larger the gift the more important it is to drill down and identify the source of your motivation. Know the change you want to happen as a result of your gift. Know how important it is to see it happen, to receive a report about it, to be involved in the planning process or work itself.

While answering these questions you might drill right into deep motivation. To get to your donor intent analyze what you really want by making the gift. Be able to explain it to yourself, your advisors and the organization receiving the gift.  Know your donor intent. If you’re still not sure discuss it with an advisor.

Dr. Seuss also said “Think and Wonder. Wonder and Think.” Without thinking and wondering you might not explore a path to giving joy that only you can experience. When you do you will become that person Dr. Seuss is talking about, “someone like you caring a whole awful lot.”

Tell us about a time you experienced joy in giving or email me to talk about it.


1 Comment

  1. Nancy Crawford

    Great article made even more great by referring to a children’s author, my most favorite people. Thanks for sharing.


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