Too much stuff?
This is certainly the time of year for accumulating more “stuff,” isn’t it. It’s even become downright patriotic to go out and shop.
When my kids asked this year -“what do you want for Christmas?” – I truly didn’t want one more thing that fell into the “stuff” category. Just having them home together, sharing conversation over lovely dinners and time together, that is enough to make me extremely happy.
I wish I could say I’m immune to stuff, but I can’t. I did my share of Christmas shopping, tempered by the desire to shop local and buy things people would ordinarily consume, like foodstuffs. I didn’t always succeed.
Tuesday afternoon, I had a short discussion about the difference between a recruiting an event sponsor and recruiting a philanthropic donor. I was making the point that the sponsorship exchange weighs heavily onto the side of tangible benefits– like size of logo, number of impressions, size of audience. Relationships matter, absolutely, but the tangible benefits the sponsors receive usually close the sale.
This morning I went to the memorial service for a fundraising colleague of mine Steve Sorin. The rabbi spoke of Steve’s enthusiasm for life, his love of family and music, and his belief in his work. And how much the measure of a life isn’t about the stuff that we accumulate, but of the memories we leave, the impact we have on each other and the world around us.
As I sat to write, I couldn’t help thinking about so many conversations I’ve had with volunteer fundraisers or with fundraisers new to the profession. How often they’ve expressed the need to have stuff to give before they could possibly interact with a potential donor. Stuff like a beautiful printed brochure or a tangible reward for giving. The idea that a donor would give without getting personal stuff back was just an incomprehensible concept.
Sadly, too often in fundraising the desire to give or get stuff gets in the way of us having deep conversations with donors about change, about possibility, about human need and personal aspirations. About the “love of humankind” that is at the root core of philanthropy.
We really don’t need as much stuff as we have. Not in our lives, and not in our interactions with our donors.
(If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard).