Would you follow a path into woods unknown below giant trees? I would follow that path. You see I love trees and I love to follow a path to see where it goes. I’m at a place like that right now. I have no idea where my new path with Your Philanthropy will lead. I have no idea what I will learn; what ups and downs will come.
Being a major donor to an organization is like being on a path below giants – a true philanthropy journey. Those giants (the donors who came before you) have carved a path. Is it the path you want to follow? Or can you make your own path?
Our paths are similar because no journey is straight. Journeys take winding paths toward unseen destinations. Even if you know the path you want to take – you know what you want your gift to accomplish – there are likely surprises.
The giants along the path are like the redwood trees with roots we can’t see. The roots are critical to the beauty and strength of trees. Roots keep the trees grounded no matter how tall they stretch. Roots represent many years of learning to survive the elements.
Donors spend many years learning how to give and seeing their hopes come to fruition. They have a lot of roots. They have learned patience and persistence, keeping both packed in their philanthropy journey bag.
Hal Borland, a New York Times writer from 1941-78 said, “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”
Patience and persistence must both be in the bag on this journey.
In a recent conversation, I found myself listening to someone who has been on this journey intent on learning philanthropy. I am sure the path has curved and twisted. The giants who’ve set examples seem very tall. Where the path leads is unclear.
This is where the intentional giver must pull patience and persistence out of the bag. Not every gift goes the way we expect. The joy of the gift often doesn’t last as long as we hoped. Tomorrow the mailbox is full all over again with needs that seem beyond our ability to fix or change.
Our philanthropy journey is a path below giants. Did I mention I like to climb trees? Perhaps we should climb up to the top of a giant or two and see what we can learn?
Isaac Newton said, “if I have seen further than other men it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”
Let’s climb a few trees, find a few giant shoulders to stand on. Let’s see what we learn.
What have you learned from the giants?
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