I don’t write a lot about my day job here (mostly for obvious reasons but maybe also for some reasons that are not so obvious). It is important for me to keep my professional and personal lives separate. The irony is not lost to me that my professional life is often more private than my personal life since I share so much of my personal life here on Not Merely Living. That said, this is my space for dreaming. I try to keep my creative, personal, and thoughtful pursuit of a more fulfilling, well rounded, inspiring life separate from my career.
But so it is that both lives are always ever a part of me. By day I raise money for a non-profit organization that I deeply support and believe in. When I leave the office in the evenings, I also mostly successfully leave the stress and pressure of my job behind me to focus on other aspects of my life (which is where this blog comes in).
However, yesterday as I was listening to our keynote speaker at a national conference of fundraising professionals from Food Banks across the country, I heard something that was so powerful that I couldn’t help but share a small bit of it with you all today.
We are connected to different charities thoughout our lives. Depending on how pain or injustice has touched your life, you may support many different causes or you may have directly benefited from the work of a charity in your life. As a single humanity I believe it’s our responsibility to make things better for every, single life. The speach I heard yesterday touched on just that. If you haven’t seen Dan Pollatta‘s Ted Talk, you need to watch it. If you don’t have 20 minutes now–set aside some time to watch this later (I promise it’s worth it, and I can wait to hear what you think about it). He is saying things and doing things that might make some folks mighty uncomfortable, but don’t powerful change agents usually start that way?
I will not do a good job trying to synthesize his position, but basically he’s suggesting that we as a country need to completely adjust the way we think about charities and really reinvent the way we evaluate and assess our ways and motivations for giving.
When I say that this is going to make people uncomfortable, I mean that folks will literally have to re-learn assumptions that we make every day about how we evaluate the success of a charity.
He’s one of the most powerful, moving speakers I’ve ever heard. He is literally trying to change the non-profit world and to make it possible for Charities to actually achieve their own missions: to end hunger, cure cancer, or eliminate homelessness.
He challenged that we as a society should be empowering charities to innovate and take risks (just as successful for-profits do all the time) so that we can actually come closer to addressing these issues.
I haven’t read his book Uncharitable yet, but I ordered it on Amazon minutes after his talk.
At the end of his talk, he quoted Daniel Burnham:
“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”
If you’ve made it this far I want to say thanks for reading this and taking the time to watch the Tedtalk and to think about this issue. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
P.S. Dan has started a group called the Charity Defense Council to organize and advocate for charities. Check it out.