Do you remember the first time you were generous as a child?
No, not the time when you were forced to share your favourite toy with your pesky little brother – but when you truly, freely gave something that was valuable to you to someone else, of your own free will?
Maybe because I’ve been writing a lot about my mom and seniors lately, it’s got me thinking about being a kid, and the first time I made a donation.
It was a Labour Day weekend in the early ’80s – I was rattling around the house, full of back to school jitters, when I spotted it.
The Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.
Okay, I’ll take a moment here to acknowledge the Jerry Lewis Telethon was all sorts of problematic – but as a 9-year-old kid, I didn’t have the analysis I do now, and I was awfully moved by the stories of kids just like me, and the ways their lives were impacted by muscular dystrophy.
I wanted to help.
I felt so proud as I picked up the phone, dialed the number on the screen, and told the kind volunteer on the other end of the line that I wanted to donate $10. It was a lot of money, and was painstakingly saved from my paltry allowance.
As I put a stamp on an envelope, and trotted off to my closest mailbox, I was filled with excitement! I gave it a little kiss, thinking of the children I’d be helping, and dropped it into the slot.
To this day, when I share that story, I can still feel all the emotions I felt that September weekend more than 30 years ago.
These are all emotions that we still feel when being generous, and making a donation to our favourite cause.
But why are we fundraisers so bad at recognizing and tapping into the sheer joy of giving? Have we become so jaded with our ROIs and LTVs and KPIs that we can’t remember what it feels like to be generous?
The next time you open an envelope with a $10 donation inside, think of my 9-year-old self, and the joy, pride and excitement I felt sending that gift off to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Someone likely shared many of those same feelings as they were writing you that cheque.
Feeling joyful to have the opportunity to touch someone's life.
Feeling proud they were able to contribute.
Feeling excited about all the wonderful things they’re making possible with their contribution.
Remember those feelings – and treat that gift, and that donor, accordingly.