A few years ago I made the transition into the world of parenthood. After surviving those early months of intense sleep deprivation I began to find myself in the unfamiliar position of relating to my parents… as a parent.
If you’ve ever spent time around kids, you can appreciate the experience of seeing the world from their wholesome perspective. That first year in particular is a year of so many firsts… the first time they see a dog… the first time they hear a siren… the first time they taste ice cream.
There is something magical about the purity by which kids see the world – unburdened by the knowledge that a dog might bite, that sirens might imply danger, or that ice cream may not be as good for you as one would hope. Seeing the world through the eyes of a kid reminds us what life is really about – the joy of human experiences – and as a parent, I now reflect back on times when my parents were reminded of the importance of the human experience by seeing the world through my eyes.
A few months ago I found myself in another unfamiliar position, again involving my parents. Only this time it was I, the kid, who was viewing the world through their wholesome perspective.
It began when my dad joined the Board of Directors for a national multi-affiliate human services organization. While not his first time serving on a philanthropic Board, it had been more than 20 years since he’d been involved with a nonprofit organization. And in those 20 years, I, his kid, had grown up and established a career as a fundraiser.
From the moment he joined the Board, I began to receive regular updates on everything from the story featured in the organization’s newsletter, to the color selected to paint the wall of the room he and my mom were helping to sponsor. His excitement was contagious and his passion was astounding.
As a fundraising professional for more than a decade, I at times suffer from the burden of knowledge – knowledge of the strategies behind the tactics, knowledge of the statistic behind the strategies and knowledge of the realities that hinder our industry’s success. However, my Dad’s unbridled passion and excitement in serving on this Board reminded me of the secondary benefit our industry offers. More than just our missions and the constituencies we serve, our industry has the opportunity to truly engage individuals in the joy of a human experience and in the true wonderment that is philanthropy.
Thank you, Dad for this important reminder. And to all my philanthropy colleagues, let us not forget the power and the importance of the human experience.