Often in the world of philanthropy, as in life, we can get so caught up in making money and seeing progress, that we lose sight of what we are working so hard to achieve.
Webster’s dictionary defines philanthropy as, “the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people.”
To make life better for other people.
Not to make more money, or be more successful, or get more recognition, though those can be side effects, but to help others have a better life.
A recent article by the Chronicle of Philanthropy raised some questions about the not-for-profit communities capacity to effect change through embracing love. The authors, Jennifer and Peter Buffett, challenged the notion that words like “love” shouldn’t be used in philanthropy because it might be “seen as “not strategic.””
In response to this, the Buffett’s listed 6 ideas regarding love that might help change the stigma this four letter word has garnered in our industry.
1. Love means not having all the answers, but rather trusting the people you are trying to help and letting them show you what they need most.
2. Neither love nor money grows when it is locked away. Let love move you to invest your money where it is needed most, not where your return will be greatest.
3. Love means providing for the long term goal. Specifically in regards to grants that would last longer and do more to cover operational cost.
4. Love means partnership, with other people, other organizations, and other ideas. Love isn’t about winning, it’s about teaming up for the greater good.
5. Love means proving that people matter by taking the time and resources necessary to get to know them. The best place to invest is in the people you are helping, and the people who are helping you.
6. Love means realizing that progress may be hard to measure but that doesn’t mean there is no change. After all, how do you quantify someones happiness or sense of security? Yet those intangible results may be what you have been working toward all along.
There is risk involved whenever you get your heart involved, but there is no greater satisfaction than letting your heart lead you and seeing someone’s life changed for the better because of it.
It might be taboo in the fundraising world to suggest a heart forward approach, but what are we working toward if not a world where a need is perceived, and out of love, an answer is provided?
About the author: Olivia is a senior at the University of Iowa pursuing a degree in journalism and mass communication as well as a certificate in writing. She is interested in how effective writing can benefit non-profit causes as well as traditional media. In her free time she enjoys reading, and photography, and has a passion for travel.