Today 2019 begins, but to me, every day is New Year's Day. That's because I have the great privilege to partner with donors who passionately commit to make our community a better place. I witness firsthand the power that one person can have on another person, a cause, a community. This happens every single day - no clock countdown or fireworks are required to become a catalyst for good.
And so, while reflections on the past year and predictions for the one to come are numerous right now, I prefer to share with you the behaviors and values that set my focus for the year ahead. I know that by concentrating on what grounds us, we can be steadfast in upholding the pillars of our work, but also be nimble enough to respond to needs and opportunities as they arise for everyone we serve.
- Hope & Trust. Hope is at the heart of what we do. It is defined as desire accompanied by expectation. There is always an expectation of the power of personal philanthropy to improve lives. We are here to be the spark that ignites the dreams of our donors to support others. Charitable giving creates possibilities that are only being imagined and are constantly evolving. Once that hope is released, our donors rely on us to help guide effective and efficient programs and provide support to people and organizations that make up our community. Tools like The Giving Partner allow us to share our knowledge with donors and inform investments made through community impact grants and programs.
- Kindness & Courage. Having sympathy for others propels our donors to gently guide and offer resources where they are most needed. We see this take shape from gifts small and large. Often contributions made to Season of Sharing, which offers emergency support for our neighbors in need, come from people who have themselves received support of some kind in their lives, and who may not even have the most to give. The current campaign runs through January 31 to build this important safety net of funds that are distributed all year long. The courage demonstrated by both those who are giving and accepting these gifts is incredibly moving.
- Decisiveness & Risk. Life is always happening; there likely isn't ever going to be a perfect time to enact change, but, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, we need to be the change we want to see in the world. With donors making commitments to causes they care about day in and day out, lives are being improved throughout our region daily. Thoughtful, informed gift-making in partnership with many individuals and institutions allowed us to award more than $34 million in grants last year on behalf of our generous donors. This takes some risk but reaps great rewards for everyone involved.
- Patience & Tolerance. The work we undertake is long-term. Investments in systemic change that involve families across multiple generations need time to bear fruit. Through programs such as the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, our aim is to create "proof points" that lead to improvements that can be applied to greater systems. This requires listening and learning from others who have different life experiences and circumstances and being thoughtful and inclusive as new methods are developed.
- Sharing & Belonging. The giving nature of our donors allows us to share opportunities with others. Last year more than $2 million was awarded in scholarships for students and adult learners. I see this investment in education as the ultimate gift. By giving knowledge, we give opportunity, and then, collectively, we are able to advance our entire community by creating a place of belonging for everyone.
As always, I love to hear from you. If you have a passion that is driving you for the year ahead, please share it with me! You are my inspiration!