Breaking the Silence
I hear the phone ring at dinner time.
It's Bob, the fund-raiser from the Community Center for Performing Arts, calling about their semi-annual fund drive. Exhaustion sweeps over me as I listen to his cheery voice. Unlike most anonymous solicitations, Bob has personally phoned me every six months for years now. How does he always seem to know the precise moment that I bite into my eggplant parmesan? I just finished wading through the day's mail, including four heart-breaking requests for donations which got thrown onto the heap of appeals languishing on my desk. I consider myself a caring person, but this fundraising blizzard is starting to wear me down.
Like many people, I long to feel my money is making a real difference towards healing the world's problems. Yet far too often my contributions feel like empty gestures; the check I seal into the reply envelope appears to pay mainly for more appeals. Do any of you feel this way, giving money to the causes you care about? How often does giving bring up in you feelings of guilt, annoyance and helplessness? How often does it connect you with your compassion, commitment, and potency?
As with most personal money issues, this is not a subject of conversation. And while there is a plethora of literature about making money (as befits our culture), precious little is written about the intimate, subjective experience of giving money away. We at More than Money decided that this season, when many groups are gearing up for end-of-the-year fundraising, is an opportune time to brush away this silence and learn from a variety of people's experiences about what can make giving more satisfying.
After working on this issue of More than Money, I have decided to change my response towards Bob. The next time he calls about the community center, I won't just say no and hang up. I'll let him know that I have a whole plan for giving, and that even if his project doesn't fit into my plan this year, I support the work and wish him the best. Who knows? Maybe I'll ask him about his giving, and end up inviting him over to share some eggplant parmesan. I hope that this issue brings you, too, impetus for new explorations, and encouragement to craft your giving so it brings you greater fulfillment.
- Allen Hancock, for the editors
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