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Matt Beem
Kinetic Fundraising, Inc.

Giving for the right reasons

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

While racing down Truman Road last week, I heard a great recipe for giving on a local radio station. I fished a pen from my briefcase and steadied the steering wheel with my knee to scrawl it on a napkin.

“Don’t give because of what it does for you. Give because of what it does for the person receiving your gift.”

Gary Robinson, my neighbor and a fellow soccer coach at Blue Valley Activity Center (BVAC) in eastern Independence, came to mind. I mentioned Gary in an earlier column.

First the disclaimers: Gary’s not a relative, but he is a friend and neighbor whose daughter attends grade school with our 6-year-old. And though the Robinsons live a block over and down, their youngest and our kids often play together on warm afternoons and weekends.

Coaching just one soccer team this season, Gary might as well be on vacation. His normal load is two or three.

Heck, I spend an hour before each weekend game plotting my team’s line-up in an Excel spreadsheet, making every effort to ensure players get equal time. With three teams to shepherd, nothing else would ever get done.

I suspect Gary feels the pain I’m imagining. And that’s my point: He doesn’t coach three teams because of what he gets (or gives up); he does it for the players and their families.

When we give for the right reason, it shows. It comes across in Gary’s calm, friendly demeanor; is evident in the fun his players have on the field; and is the reason they return season after season to play on his Big Dogs teams.

Beyond the difference good givers make for their beneficiaries, they set contagious examples. Gary’s not the only Robinson at BVAC on soccer weekends and at annual special events like last Saturday’s Grandparents Day; his two teenage daughters, former Big Dogs themselves, regularly referee soccer games and run the concession stand.

Look around. I bet you know somebody like Gary Robinson.

Perhaps you’d like to be more like him or her. Here’s how to develop your giving action plan:

• Pick something about which you’re passionate. For Gary, it’s soccer; for you, it may be a neighborhood improvement association, an organization that serves the socially disadvantaged or a place of worship.

• Pick a way to give that excites you. Gary likes to coach, but you may prefer to stuff envelopes or help maintain the grounds and facilities.

• Make a finite commitment to serve the organization you’ve chosen in the manner you’ve designed. Gary commits to coach one season at a time. You may commit to your task for a week, a month or a year.

• Evaluate your current commitment’s impact and refine your next commitment accordingly. Gary may decide to coach two teams next season, just as you may adjust your commitment to better impact others.

I’m glad Gary’s a good giver. My soccer team benefited from his benevolence in the season opener.

His Big Dogs were pummeling my Pirates, and one of my strong-footed players put one in the goal from midfield at kick off. It technically didn’t count – another offensive player has to touch the ball before it enters the net – but Gary gave it to us anyway.

Thanks, Gary. See you on the soccer field.

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