Why Fund-Raising is Fun
I loved the article in the New York Times by Arthur Brooks last week, titled “Why Fund-Raising is Fun.”
Brooks explains that while researching a book on charitable giving back in 2003, he found a strange pattern in his data. He says:
“I was finding that donors ended up with more income after making their gifts. This was more than correlation; I found solid evidence that giving stimulated prosperity. I viewed my results as implausible, though, and filed them away. After all, data patterns never “prove” anything, they simply provide evidence for or against a hypothesis.
“But when I mentioned my weird findings to a colleague, he told me that they were fairly unsurprising. Psychologists, I learned, have long found that donating and volunteering bring a host of benefits to those who give. In one typical study, researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia confirmed that, in terms of quantifying “happiness,” spending money on oneself barely moves the needle, but spending on others causes a significant increase.”
I’ve contended for over a year now that I work with really happy folks, our members included. In nearly every conversation, I hear stories of generous donors and meaningful grants. And when those generous donors are involved in the grantmaking, the happiness needle probably goes off the chart.
But it’s rarely about the money; instead, it’s about the difference the gift, the grant and the time invested has made to the ultimate beneficiary and the lives that have been changed.
Let me share with you just a few of the examples I’ve heard over the past few weeks of the ways funders are making a difference (and finding meaning and delight in doing so).
Did you know?
- The Cleveland school district and more than 30 area agencies – including members The George Gund Foundation, Bruening Foundation, Cleveland Foundation and United Way of Greater Cleveland – have joined in a partnership with the goal of placing 2,000 more four-year-olds in Cleveland into quality preschool, up from 1,200 today, as part of the PRE4CLE plan.
- Interact for Health’s school-based health center pilot has resulted in a public-private partnership with centers in 20 of Cincinnati’s 55 buildings, with measurable outcomes in improved student health and educational attainment.
- The Muskingum County Community Foundation’s Scholarship Central not only lists hundreds of available scholarships but also helps students prepare for the ACT, figure out that complex FAFSA form and more.
- The Youth Fund of the Community Foundation of Lorain County recently spent an afternoon delving into the topic of drug abuse in their community. They heard from an outreach & prevention counselor and got a first-hand account from a 20-year-old recovering heroin addict. What followed was an engaging discussion and a vote to grant $2,500 for additional support to combat this growing epidemic in their community.
- Continuing to celebrate their 100th birthday, the Cleveland Foundation is giving free admission to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on April 26 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. This gift will recognize the remarkable history and continued partnership with the Zoo, the Cleveland Zoological Society and Cleveland Metroparks.
- The United Way of Summit County just announced $1 million in strategic investments for educational programs that support the Cradle to Career Alliance, a process of analyzing data and administering intervention at pivotal moments in a student’s academic career. Working with the Summit Education Initiative, research and think tank organization, they will be working to pinpoint academic milestones that can be analyzed to predict later success.
Are you feeling happier by just knowing what your colleagues are undertaking? I can’t help but smile at this great work. Don’t hesitate to let me know the good things you’re doing in your community!
Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.