We hear of the importance of taking the long view in the life of philanthropy. This became evident to me through a relationship that extended over many years, taking unexpected turns but growing constantly.
I became aware of this individual through the president of an organization I served. It took, however, several years to create an introduction and a meeting. Over a period of time, this individual revealed that he had received services from the organization that were life-changing.
Looking for the right opportunities to reconnect him with the organization, I invited him to attend a public event. This positive occasion lead to a first gift. The second brought a commitment in honor of his children and grandchildren. Next, came a major gift for the unit of the organization where he received services. Slowly, but surely, he naturally became incorporated in the entire culture of our organization.
Patience and sincerity, over time, made all the difference.
Life, both personal and professional, moved on, however. This individual had a successful business that grew significantly. I became very close with him, shared ups and downs in his life and learned a great deal about his work.
Then a dramatic change occurred: He sold his business. As it happened, the timing coincided with a $25-million capital campaign to build a new building. We met several times, toured the old spaces, reviewed the plans, and he clearly became invested in our vision.
The result was a $1-million gift naming a key unit. This gift was his ultimate expression of love for those we served.
As fundraising professionals, our job is to enable people to do what they really want to accomplish, but may not know how to bring it to fruition. We provide a venue, a path forward, not just persuasion. Patience plays a mighty role in philanthropy. It is not just one gift. The power of philanthropy is that it spans lifetimes.
Louis J. Gehring, MM, CFRE
Executive Vice President