Sunday, June 19, 2011
Tomorrow Giving USA will release it's 2010 statistics for giving in the United States. Unfortunately, I am not on the blogger outreach list for this study, which means that I'll have to wait along with the rest of you to learn what they have to say. :(
Scoop or no scoop, I've spent this weekend thinking about the state of giving in the U.S. (No, I don't have a COMPLETELY lame social life.) And, here is what I've come up with.
Giving to charity is counter-cultural. Well, not always --but usually-- because in our culture we are SOOOO in love with money. (Hell, Kim Kardashian just got a 20-carat diamond ring from her boyfriend. Imagine how many people that ring can feed!) To give money away then is counter to the dominant narrative that says that it is VERY important to be wealthy. Thus, giving is necessarily a deviant act. It's not normal. And, it often only happens under very special circumstances.
Giving to charity is complicated. When we finally do give away our time, skills and/or money, we often expect something in return. Of course, it depends on the giver, but for many people (including me) giving often comes with strings attached, even if it's just a genuine "Thank You."
Giving to charity can be very rewarding. (I don't want you to think I'm totally depressed.) There are those moments in life where you experience transcendence - a sense of being bigger, larger, wiser, and stronger than you really are. Charity can be like this. You act in spite of yourself because you see a need. Because you want to help. These are life changing moment.
Our job as fundraisers is to create these moments. To facilitate both the impulse to give and to reward the giving. To give people a taste of happiness and greatness.
In a culture in love with achievement, success, power, money and prestige, this is no easy task. GIVING, it seems, is an outsider. Let us work then to show people the glory of being more than a paycheck. Let us share the power of reaching for other human beings in spite of ourselves. In touching our humanity.