Friday, June 30, 2006


It's been a little while since I was here. Probably has something to do with loving my job so much and no longer needing something with which to distract myself during the day.

I've been getting curious about something of late - how and why people awaken to their own philanthropic spirit. Being a fundraiser and all, I get an inside view of the various attitudes and approaches out there. Philanthropy is a real window into how someone feels about money, God, family, responsibility. Actually, it's often a window into how an individual values herself.

A personal for instance - I like to be thanked and acknowledged when I make a gift. As much as I hate to admit it, part of my motivation in being philanthropic is looking good. I want the people around me to know that I do my part. This is not all there is to it, but that desire to have outside validation is definitely present when I make a gift.

I'm taking a seminar about money right now. One of the first homework assignments asks participants to give away some amount of money that feels like a little too much. And part of the instruction includes not sharing that it is part of homework assignment with the person who receives the money.

My first and most immediate thought: I don't know how much to give away. I once gave someone $50 because there was something she really wanted to do, and I wanted her to have the opportunity to do it. That, at the time, felt like a little too much, but I continue to be glad I did it. Funny - everything I said earlier about how I am with organizations and gifts doesn't seem to apply when it comes to personal gifts. I didn't have any desire to hold my friend accountable to the $50 I gave her. Once the money left my hands, I was done.

Back to "I don't know how much to give away." I don't. Often, I cannot decide how much I can/should give to charity or political candidates. I give more generously than others I know in similar and better financial situations, and feel committed to it, but also second guess myself along the way - maybe this is too much, maybe I'm being irresponsible to myself and my husband. On the other hand, I know I could actually afford to give more away. How do I quantify my commitment to something through money?

I sometimes feel the same way shopping. Like the decision of affordability is somewhat arbitrary. There are so many choices when it comes to spending my money. I ignore the big things I really want - a house, interesting travel - because it is easier to spend small amounts of money very regularly on expensive groceries and eating out in restaurants.