Today’s mixer is BYOB!
That would be, “Bring your own bacon.”Today’s guest of honor, Jennifer Barbour, is a bacon lover, pie hater, mom to two boys and three dogs, and all around do-gooder. If you haven’t checked out Jennifer’s blog at anotherjennifer.com, it’s definitely worth the read. Jennifer writes about motherhood, living in Maine, blogging, social media, and she also lends her voice to an abundance of worthy causes, through her Philanthropy Friday series. I am so happy to have Jennifer here on my page today. Please give her a warm welcome!
When I worked for a nonprofit, I was the person who said no to donations.
Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it?
Thanks. But, no thanks.
The problem was that staff didn’t know how to say no. Or, people would simply drop off bags filled with their old clothes and household items at one of our residential facilities and leave.
There are two problems with this. 1. We often didn’t have a need for the items and would be forced to find a place to store them. 2. Tracking these donations was a nightmare. I banged my head up against a wall trying to manage the donation process, train employees to understand it and educate potential donors on the best ways to give. I’ll be honest. I wasn’t very successful. There really wasn’t a true development department to handle donor management – my focus was on marketing communications – and staff was too busy carrying out the mission of the organization.
In my 9 years of working for (or with, as is the case now) nonprofits, I often observed a disconnect between the giver and the receiver.
People wanted to give, and organizations certainly needed things. Why didn’t this work in harmony? Why did donations sometimes become a chore?
Yet, some of the best conversations I had were with people to whom I said “no” because I would often re-direct their good intentions into a more meaningful donation. They would tell me about why they chose our organization to support. The conversation would frequently turn personal, and I would listen without judgment. They might have gone through our (substance abuse) treatment program. Or a daughter may have been saved from a life of drugs and jail under our roof.
It’s a pretty amazing day when someone tells you the organization you work for saved her life. I didn’t get to have these conversations too often, but they ended with me suggesting where their donation would make the most impact, even if it wasn’t with our organization. I might send them a wish list, in case they still wanted to help us by purchasing something or donating money. Or I’d connect them with clinical staff to see if they might want to speak to our clients about their own success story. They might become a board member.
There’s often a misconception about philanthropy that “giving” means spending a lot of time and money on a cause.
Honestly, sometimes I just wanted people to share their support of our organization with their friends, family members, colleagues and social networks.
I’m only beginning to realize that my pull to work for a
nonprofit early on would also pave the wave for me to explore the topic of
philanthropy and, in a way, re-define it.
While I write a lot about giving back, I’ll be honest when I say that I’m learning about this stuff as I go along.
All I can say is that when we have a pull to give, we should see where it leads us.
Jennifer Barbour is a copywriter, blogger, aspiring author and new media consultant. She aims to inspire, to entertain and to make you think. Her passions are writing, philanthropy, her awesome family and bacon, though not necessarily in that order. You can find out more at anotherjennifer.com.