Development Directing

I’m a Development Director. Why it is called that, I honestly don’t know. To people outside the nonprofit world, I don’t think it means anything. I prefer Philanthropy Advisor or just fundraiser. But alas, development director it is.

This position exists for the purpose of raising funds to support the mission and work of the organization. It is somewhat sales focused – our product is the great work we do in the community. We go about raising funds in a variety of ways but mostly it is about sharing our story via different venues.

This may sound crazy, but I would like to see the need for my position eliminated. This cycle of the “haves” giving to the “have nots”, while very useful for the “haves”, just isn’t enough for me. I do love my work but the model, in my opinion is unsustainable.

First of all, who identified the theory that the “haves” have more. More what, money? What does that have to do with value? I know a lot of “have nots” that have more worth in their little toe than a “have” that just grew up with money in their family. I would like to do away with the value statements around how people are “less than” as it relates to their net worth. I have been rich and poor and it did not affect who I am, it just make life more complicated.

How do we level the playing field? We are born into situations. Some wealthier then others. Some healthier than others. And that just is, so how do we make it equitable? What if at the hospital, birthing center or wherever you give birth, in addition to the birth certificate and pictures of cute feet, they gave you a certificate. It said, “Congratulations tiny human, you have joined our world! As part of our gift to you, we would like you to know that you are valuable beyond measure. As such, your financial needs will be taken care of. All we ask is that you steward the planet with care, use your value to make the world a better place, have some fun living, and set aside some of your financial and intellectual resources to share with the next generation. Welcome to the earth, we love and support each other here and we are so pleased you have joined us. Happy Living!”

How would something like this start? Good question. I heard a presentation recently about homelessness. The main assumption about homeless people is that they are homeless because of chemical dependency or mental health issues. Not the case, these are the faces of the homeless that we see downtown. But the majority of homelessness is caused by just not enough income and can be solved with a small rental subsidy. Money is needed, not “healthier or more valuable people”.

So if some people need financial resources to get ahead, cool let’s make that happen AND work towards solving the bigger moral issue in the long run. I know a lot of very smart people are working towards sustainablility for people across many sectors. But to me, it is not getting at the root issue. In my opinion, we are all part of this human family. If my brother or sister is hurting, so am I and I have to do something. Not just throw money at it. This issue is calling for a bigger picture look at what each human being’s responsibility is to each other human being.

This systemic approach would have to start somewhere. Perhaps with a few friends who organize their resources to support their families and then their families organize…and so forth, causing the ripple affect. Or a group of people banding together to organize themselves around meals and start inviting anyone who wants to join them to do so and so forth. I for one, get caught up in the distractions of life and don’t even see the needs of our community sometimes. I think it’s time to take off the rose colored glasses and start asking ourselves, what can we do, right now to make the world a more balanced place, for all?

How do we as human beings to care for our fellow human beings? Do we just throw our monetary resources at the “needy”? Do we join the board and work towards supporting the mission of the organization supporting the “needy”?

Or do we stop. And ask ourselves, if the “have nots” where my sister or mother or best friend, what would I do? My answer would be, I would get in there. I would bring over groceries and cook food together. I would go shopping together and get them a new outfit for job searching. I would help update their resume. But most of all…I would remind them how valuable they are…over and over. Until they believe it and are at a place where they can turn around and pass on the love. We are all a human family, so I say step up to the dinner table, bring something to share, pass it around and get your hands dirty washing dishes. This is how we do it in my family. You are welcome for dinner anytime.

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