Walking to the front of the room I knew I had one job to accomplish. I needed to thank officers, welcome new board members and especially turn the reins over to the new board chair.
But as I turned to face the audience, it separated into the faces of spouses, children, friends, and co-workers who had one thing in common. Virtually everyone in the room had lost someone close while under the watchful care of our local nonprofit, The Hospice of East Texas.
On three different occasions I experienced the loss of a family member – two while at Home Place, an in-patient facility operated by The Hospice of East Texas; and a family member who was in a nursing facility, yet still attended to by their wonderful staff and volunteers.
I sensed each of us had experienced at least one crystal clear memory of the lost loved one. And I knew we were together because we understood the importance of every volunteer hour, every dollar donated, and every piece of wisdom and guidance shared by someone who wanted to give back. We wanted this organization to be there for others as it had been there for us.
We were giving from the heart.
I often write about the importance of being smart in how we give. I write about how to be intentional and have an impact.
And yet there we sat with our hearts wrapped around every smart question a donor might think to ask.
Can we do both? Can we give from our heart and still be intentional and have an impact? Can the heart be smart?
Of course, the answer is yes, but it’s not always simple.
I worked closely with someone who would come to work on the morning after graduation for Christian Women’s Job Corp and tell us how moved he was to hear the stories of accomplishment, perseverance, and success. Two days later he was asking questions about the organization itself, the management, strength of the leadership and their fundraising challenges.
He gave, and he asked questions. That’s a smart-hearted donor.
Let’s use The Hospice of East Texas as an example of how to ask smart-hearted questions.
- How are they unique?
- Are all hospice service providers alike?
- How committed are the Board of Directors?
Here are the answers
The Hospice of East Texas is a public charity and has been since 1983. They are in the business of great hospice care in spite of the complexities of the healthcare system, Medicare and health insurance. They work to be sure individuals who do not have resources for hospice care still receive services. To help accomplish that mission the Hospice of East Texas Foundation was created.
They have a strong governing board focused on ensuring they are doing a great job today and will continue well into the future. Key staff and the executive leadership are passionate about the mission and intent on navigating the healthcare system challenges before them. They do it to serve us in the most difficult of times.
It’s okay to ask questions before giving
Nonprofit organizations spend every day working hard to deliver services to people in need of everything. By everything I mean there is hardly anything you can imagine that could make a difference in someone’s life, in some way, that isn’t delivered by a nonprofit. Food, shelter, jobs, literacy, health care, mentoring, education, and on and on – an endless list.
Asking questions does not mean you do not trust the leadership of an organization to follow their mission. Giving and asking questions means you believe in their mission and have made the decision to partner with them, and to serve. Partners stand together, honest and faithful.
The honest nonprofit is transparent, shares their successes and failures with donors. The faithful donor is willing to provide support through the ups and downs. Faithful donors let a nonprofit organization know I can’t give today, but I’ll be back. And the honest nonprofit organization knows they can keep us informed trusting we will be back.
How have you been a smart-hearted donor?
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