Philanthropy & Major Gifts Fundraising Unites Us is an important message shared by one of our industry’s great intellects. Hear Jim Eskin’s thoughtful perspective and share it with others. It’s just what we need right now. Meet my friend and fellow American Mr. Jim Eskin.
We have another reason to cherish philanthropy: In an uber-polarized nation, due to support of the 1.5 million non-profits, philanthropy is a shining example of responsibly and effectively bringing the American people together.
On the other hand, the mid-term elections provided another vivid reminder of just how divided the nation is. Unfortunately, this goes beyond supporting different parties, candidates and viewpoints. It has escalated to the point of disliking, mistrusting and being unwilling to work with those who share different ideas.
That’s not what The Founders intended. We were founded on the powerful motto of E Pluribus Unum, highlighting the fact that a cohesive single nation was formed as the result of the 13 smaller colonies joining together. Over the past 246 years, we have thrived and grown as a nation by embracing the American dream and the values of hard work, playing by the rules and, when able, giving back. This has always meant pulling together during times of crisis. American politics has historically been chock-full of heated debate, but it has steadily grown uglier and uglier and lost sight of our proud roots. More and more, people are moving in the direction of separate ideological pods in which they live, follow news sources, and promulgate social media with only those who think like themselves.
Restoring civility must rank high on our national agenda.
Philanthropy & Major Gifts Fundraising Unites Us
Non-profits provide a beautiful model for bringing together for the common good uniting people from different backgrounds and with different viewpoints. When people choose to donate the precious gifts of time and money to a favorite non-profit or cause, they don’t research the political underpinnings of the leadership of the organization. They invest their time and money because of their strong belief in the mission, and the way it touches, improves and saves more lives. The variety of noble missions is virtually unlimited, including organizations that focus on health care, education, economic development, culture and the arts, children, seniors, animal welfare and multiple human services.
(By law, non-profits are prohibited from the political arena. In return for its favored tax-status, a charitable non-profit promises the federal government that it will not engage in “political campaign activity” and if it does, IRS regulations mandate that the charitable non-profit will lose its tax-exempt status.)
Simply put, non-profits bring out the best in people. They remind us that no matter how huge the problem or challenge is, we can take matters into our own hands and each of us, in our own way, can make a difference. They vividly remind us that more is possible. Plus, they build bridges of understanding by rallying staff, board, donors, volunteers and others around a common vision of a better world. More than ever, we can and should highlight the non-profit ethic of joining together to improve humankind, and the notion that, by helping others, we are truly helping ourselves.
In my role as a fundraising trainer/consultant for a wide range of organizations, I see close up how mission-centered our non-profits are. Of course, individuals in these non-profits have political and ideological positions in their personal lives. But in their non-profit lives, their overarching focus is on championing the success of their respective missions.
Non-profits provide daily proof that people from differing backgrounds can and do work together to improve the lot of others. By doing so they are able to accomplish amazing and uplifting results.
I strongly believe that this model of profound collaboration should be held up high as proof positive that Americans can, should and do come together for the common good.
Philanthropy & Major Gifts Fundraising Unites Us was first posted at Major Gifts Ramp-Up.
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Jim Eskin’s consulting practice, Eskin Fundraising Training builds on the success of his more than 150 fundraising workshops and webinars and provides the training, coaching and support services that non-profits need to compete for and secure major gifts. He has authored 100 guest columns that have appeared in daily newspapers, business journals and blogs across the country, and publishes Stratagems, a monthly e-newsletter exploring timely issues and trends in philanthropy. Sign up here for a free subscription. He is author of 10 Simple Fundraising Lessons, which can be purchased here.
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