Let’s Celebrate Philanthropy!
All of us spend a nonprofit life with process, and we are constantly churning to achieve results. These results are typically aligned with time, talent and treasure. Every week, you discuss how to improve your performance with your staff. You also seek to engage with volunteers through recruitment, orientation, training and motivation. Not a day goes by that you don’t think about where you will secure the next gift from, whether from an individual, corporation, foundation, organization or association. You must constantly strive to meet annual financial goals.
At times, your challenge is just to jump off the hamster wheel and take a deep breath. Stop for a moment and celebrate philanthropy this month! National Philanthropy Day was November 15. This is the time of year when philanthropy is heightened. You should be encouraged to promote the profession to a greater degree at this time of year. Step away from operational process for a moment, and enjoy the spirit of philanthropy.
An excellent way for our profession to celebrate philanthropy is to host philanthropy awards during the week of National Philanthropy Day — something to keep in mind for 2020. Why shouldn’t we honor volunteers and donors throughout the country for their contributions to society? Knight Illusions notes that volunteer appreciation is a vital part of any organization and can pay huge dividends. Volunteers give their time and energy week in and week out. That is why they should be recognized for their work in a meaningful way. True appreciation and recognition build a volunteer’s confidence, self-esteem, and deepen their investment in the work for nonprofits.
According to Knight Illusions, people volunteer to obtain a greater purpose in life, broaden their perspectives, create life-long friendships, establish a healthier self-image, create ways to help others, increase one’s generosity, teach them to make better decisions, make them better thinkers, create a lasting influence and provide future rewards. It is vital to show volunteers appreciation for their time and talent. They may not ask for recognition, but they do appreciate acknowledgement for their individual contributions.
Philanthropy awards also recognize donors of various sizes to organizations. The Business Journals shared that nonprofit executives can increase their chances for larger donations if they understand the motivations of the person they are soliciting. If you understand what motivates people to give, it is easier for donors to support causes. Awards and recognition bring community awareness to donors for their organizational support.
I attended the 2019 National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Indiana Chapter with my boss. I wanted him to see this event as we both wanted to personally acknowledge several of the award recipients we knew. Our organization was a 2013 recipient in the “Outstanding Philanthropy Group” category, and I was blessed to have won the “Outstanding Fundraising Executive” award in 2003.
The Indiana AFP was sponsoring its 37th annual event. I always enjoy going to these events because I get to interact with many colleagues, funders, volunteers and those with a common mission of promoting philanthropy. At this event, awards and recognition are given in the areas of lifetime achievement, outstanding philanthropist, outstanding fundraising professional, outstanding volunteer fundraiser, outstanding foundation, outstanding philanthropy group, outstanding youth achievement, outstanding corporation and outstanding small business.
In each case, the award nominees were sponsored by a nonprofit organization. Their stories were outstanding. Each person in the 2019 class made humble presentations and thanked others for their awards. During the event, I also had the chance to review more than 300 past award recipients. I knew a number of these people, and all were worthy of these awards. I keep thinking how wonderful our community is because so many truly care about philanthropy.
Recognition is important as it honors worthy honorees, promotes continuous and increased donations and sets an example for others to follow; it is just good business for our profession. These award winners have touched thousands of lives in such a wonderful way and will continue to do so in the future. I always leave this event inspired.
I wish all of us could celebrate philanthropy daily and recognize all of those who assist us every day in some way at our jobs. We are dependent on others, such as donors and volunteers, for our success as we share their bounty with others that need our services. It is truly a cyclical effect.
I hope you had the chance to attend a philanthropy award event recently. These events make me proud of my career choice. I live to serve others and you do, too!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.