As a product of 13 years of Catholic schooling, I've weathered my share of fundraising campaigns, having been asked to hawk magazine subscriptions, popcorn, candles, wrapping paper and tchotchkes only a grandmother could pretend to love, all in the name of school spirit. I never sold a thing, though, not even to my closest relatives, because I never asked them. The thought of asking for money — even a kindergartner could see that these "unique and desirable items" weren't worth their price — was so mortifying, so terrifying, that I never took the sales materials out of my backpack.
My only success? The two glorious years my grade school sold chocolate bars, $1 each. After carrying home the little cardboard briefcase of candy, I slowly and systematically ate all 30 chocolate bars over the following two weeks (it was a hardship, believe me) and paid for them with my allowance and any spare change to be found around the house. The peace of mind that $30 bought me was worth every penny.
That is why "Purpose-driven Philanthropy," an article by Betsy Chapin Taylor, resonates with me. Philanthropy, she reasons, can generate real revenue, and thus deserves dedicated resources and board support. But to her, "board support" doesn't mean pushing each trustee to pump his or her friends and connections for money. Instead, she suggests looking at philanthropy as a way to share the rewards of service by giving people an opportunity to be part of the hospital's, and thus their community's, future. And here's where she won me over: Even the reticent can play a meaningful yet comfortable role in philanthropy. There's a place for everyone, from the charismatic to the conversationally challenged, in identifying prospects, developing relationships, asking for a gift and expressing gratitude. Read Betsy's article on page 25.
By the way, my temperament means I am best suited for thanking donors and, of course, eating chocolate.