50 things I love about philanthropy

Contemplating support that is much more than financial.

Appears in Summer 2008 Issue: The desires of the heart
June 1 st 2008
  1. Dreams that take shape and come alive before my eyes.

  2. Networks of people working together for maximum impact.

  3. Creative projects which surpass expectations.

  4. Reports with stories, photos, and YouTube clips which prove the good that's been done.

  5. Meeting countless dedicated and passionate people.

  6. Recognizing the freedom from slavery to accumulate more.

  7. Twenty-somethings full of ideas, brimming with optimism.

  8. Taking risks on the untried and unproven.

  9. Celebrating non-profit innovation at annual awards each spring.

  10. The shock on the winner's face, and tears of gratitude.

  11. Discovering the impact of grants through good stories and "stats."

  12. Getting my shoes dirty on visits to the field.

  13. Walking the streets of downtown Toronto.

  14. Walking the streets of downtown Kabul.

  15. Friendship with a young Kabuli who has no idea what I do for a living. Our simple-English online conversations contain many emoticons.

  16. Shy smiles behind the burkas.

  17. Celebrating ten-minute-old "preemie" twins born by c-section in Kabul's CURE hospital.

  18. My fantastic, generous team.

  19. Family members who are learning to give effectively.

  20. Hearing the stories of how teenagers in our family have been changed through their giving.

  21. Encountering and being changed by the arts.

  22. Discovering an inspiring band at the Red Rooster in Burlington.

  23. Helping select and then meeting 35<35 Christian leaders (35under35.ca).

  24. Serving on the board of a leading microfinance provider, Opportunity International.

  25. Discovering that microbankers make house calls.

  26. Visiting clients in Olaya Barrio in Cartagena, Colombia, and seeing neighbours band together for support.

  27. Knowing investing in microfinance for low income earners allows donations to revolve three times per year, working endlessly into the future.

  28. The PIGS ("Professionals in Grantmaking Society"), an informal gathering of friends who work for foundations.

  29. Talking philanthropy and learning lots from my PIGS friends.

  30. The $3.99 breakfast at Daryl's Catfish Restaurant with philanthropy mentor, Fred, in Tyler, Texas.

  31. Meeting development professionals who really love raising money.

  32. Being challenged by lofty, God-I-need-more-faith fundraising targets.

  33. Releasing a request for proposals, and seeing twenty organizations benefit from professional development.

  34. Birthing a new website. Well, I didn't like the birthing bit, but the end result I'm pretty happy with.

  35. Buying boxes of books, and giving them away at Christmas.

  36. Meeting with thought leaders on Parliament Hill, thanks to the Work Research Foundation.

  37. Collaborating with other donors to advance a strategic purpose.

  38. Informal consulting with other donors concerning their philanthropic goals.

  39. Gleefully abandoning the comfortable isolation wealth can bring. While easier, it's not better, nor healthier.

  40. Not funding old, tired stuff.

  41. A flexible schedule.

  42. Tall americanos from Starbucks at my secondary office space.

  43. Time to blog.

  44. Blogging unconventional thoughts.

  45. Time to be contemplative.

  46. Views from the 30,000 foot level.

  47. Views from street level.

  48. Enjoying the prospect of a fallow year to let our portfolio rest and renew.

  49. Knowing our support is much more than just financial.

  50. Positioning myself so I can be transformed by that which touches God's heart.
 

Mark Petersen is the Executive Director of the Bridgeway Foundation, based in Cambridge, Ontario. This private grantmaking foundation's mission is to collaborate with innovators to grow healthy and productive non-profit organizations, and to help them engage in creative transformational projects. Bridgeway is committed to working in partnership with non-profit organizations to enhance organizational effectiveness and to enable a better delivery of program services.

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