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A wordsmith might argue that passionate philanthropy is redundant. After all, isn’t philanthropy in its essence the ‘love of humankind’ and isn’t ‘love’ a passion?
Nevertheless, all of us have probably seen or heard a case for giving delivered dispassionately. Sometimes the case is so compelling that it survives the dry delivery of the message.
I still recall a direct mail appeal in the 1980’s for international disaster relief that was wildly successful. The situation was urgent and the lead story on nightly television news for days. The passionate letter invited folks to help raise $25 million for the cause and produced $36 million with each donor receiving an acknowledgment.
When the magnitude of the success was clear, a special ‘thank you’ letter with no appeal and no response device was sent to announce the success. It produced $9 million in additional gifts.
People Make The Difference
But back to the subject of passionate philanthropy. It starts, of course, with a case worthy of support.
However, as our namesake Be Haas was fond of saying, she never saw a case statement raise a dime. The passion is supplied by people and that includes all of us in the development profession.
Ideally our President/CEO/Executive Director is a visionary leader whose passion for our cause comes through loud and clear. Add to that volunteer leaders who embrace our mission and vision with a passion such that they have made their gifts at a stretch level and are enthused about asking others to join them.
This combination of a strong case and strong volunteer and professional leadership is a great formula for successful philanthropy. Here, you can read the story of one such volunteer leader who used her passion for philanthropy to change the lives of others.
As development professionals we may see our role as simply orchestrating the presentation of the case by passionate leaders. However, the reality in most cases is that we will be the person presenting the case.
We do that best when we are passionate about the cause and that means adhering to the same principle we ask of our leaders: ‘Don’t ask others to do what you have not done yourself.’
So, make your own gift first.
Support the annual fund with a gift appropriate to your means that qualifies for recognition. If you cannot make a major gift, make a special gift. You should have a will and include in it a bequest to your cause.
We should practice what we preach.
And if you like your cause but are not passionate about it and thus see your work as just a job, look around. In the world of development the demand for good development professionals far outstrips the supply.
So, there are opportunities to align your passion with your cause. But, if you are not passionate about philanthropy you might want to consider another career field where you can be passionate.
There are few greater joys than doing something you love and getting paid for it.
What makes you passionate about your cause?