I used to spend 80% of my time talking about what was broken in the causes I supported. There is so much work for all of us to do, and I felt like it was important for me to shine a light on the shortcomings so that we could band together and make the changes that need to be made. I still think that’s important,
After one of my grants failed in a large public school, I found myself depressed and crying. The students weren’t going to get the health care that they needed and the politics had become so toxic they crowded out the positive thoughts and good work that was created.
I took a big step back after that day. I felt broken down and ready to give up.
Instead, I decided to hit the reset button. To work, giving needs to be positive and fun. It needs to provide joy and a huge sense of satisfaction.
I had gotten too far into the trees to see the forest and so I decided at that moment that our foundation would no longer fight to give away money. This changed things dramatically.
This doesn’t mean we don’t stand up for what is right, but we no longer fight toxic fights. Instead, we make the culture in an organization crucial to our decision about whether to give or not. We don’t hesitate to pull out of a grant or an event if the culture is toxic.
I now spend 80% of my time talking about what is working, and I let the other stuff go.
We still face tough issues dealing with poverty, homelessness, foster care, and more, but we do it with a new attitude of what can work and what is possible.
I hope that if you give, it will be out of gratitude for what you have and a desire to enjoy that sense of satisfaction you won’t get any other way. If you are in need, I hope you will accept help with a humble heart and that you’ll express your thanks to the people responsible.
Above all else though, allow giving to do what it does best – provide perspective, worth, and most importantly, joy.
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