Pondering Philanthropy Questions from a “Little Old Lady”

by | Sep 18, 2019

Sometimes when I sit down to write the YP Journal, a philanthropy issue is on my mind. But today there was no such burning issue, so in the spirit of hunting for inspiration, I started looking back at old articles and stumbled across one calling my name.

It was titled “A Plain Answer Will Do.” My mother, who passed away two years ago, almost to the day I am writing this, is the little old lady in the article. She was a great poser of questions, accomplishing great things by merely asking questions and leaving my brother and me to ponder our next actions. On this date in 2014, she combined her question with a direction. Here’s how it went.                                         

 “The next time you write a column, would you answer a question from “a little old lady?” Now without going into a lot of detail, I know this “little old lady” quite well.  Let’s say she probably knows me better than I know myself.

The question was, “How do you know where to give?” I had a quick response as the younger generation.  I told the “little old lady” that you find your passion and give to it.

That answer didn’t work. She said, “I need to know where to give because there are bound to be people just down the road who are hungry.” This isn’t the first time we’ve had this kind of conversation.  She donated to a very small organization in the area sometime back, and it was months before they cashed the check. 

Her analysis of the situation: they must not need the gift.  

After more reflection, I told her I’d get the name of an organization that served our immediate community, and who I felt would deposit her check more quickly. A plain answer.

When a “little old lady” asks such questions, it’s a good idea to ponder the lesson, especially if she is your mother.

Lesson One: All gifts matter.

Lesson Two: All givers matter.  The desire to touch a life, to make a difference, is inherent in our human nature.

Lesson Three: All givers want their gifts used wisely.

Her real question was where to give right here – just down the road. And to an organization that will put her gift to work as soon as possible. There are lots of places to give.

Where to give that will use it wisely is harder. So, I made a suggestion.

Update: her gift to the East Texas Food Bank was warmly received, and she promptly received a thank you and began receiving newsletters.

One more Lesson:  A plain answer will do.

I hope you have a “little old lady” in your life who asks questions that require plain answers. I miss her questions that left me asking myself even more questions. If you still have that person in your life give her a hug and be thankful for a gift that can’t be replaced.

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1 Comment

  1. Cathy Primer Krafve

    Love this article, Dawn! And I love the way you inherited the skill of asking terrific questions–such a beautiful inheritance!


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