On Philanthropy - Can Philanthropy Make You a Better Lover?

Three lessons from charitable giving for a long and lasting relationship  

Photo of a box of chocolates next to vase of flowersContributed by AFPSEWI
Milwaukee Business Journal
February 15, 2019 issue

Valentine’s Day, 2019.  As I was preparing to shower my loved one with affection, making dinner reservations and ordering the proverbial flowers and chocolates, I had a moment to stop and think: “Could I make a more meaningful gift?”

That phrase – “meaningful gift” – is something I think about every day in my job as a fundraiser, playing Cupid between donors and causes.  On Valentine’s Day, I was struck by the parallels between romantic and philanthropic love. 

A loving, long-lasting relationship depends on empathy, quality time and commitment – essential elements of philanthropy as well.

Love is accepting others as they are and helping them toward the best version of themselves. Similarly, philanthropists donate time, talent and treasure to help our community achieve its full potential. Empathy is at the root of generosity.

Love is spending quality time. A dinner out is fun. But what’s better? Doing something meaningful together. Why not volunteer for a cause you both care about? Time and talent are valuable to every nonprofit.

Love is commitment. Philanthropists commit millions of dollars and countless hours each year to improve the social, economic and cultural vitality of our city. Lasting impact cannot be made through a one-time gift. Commit.

Love and philanthropy can both be expressed in countless ways – none of which are confined to any calendar date.  Want a Valentine’s Day that isn’t about flowers, chocolates, or contrived greeting cards?  Just connect by showing empathy, spending quality time, and committing to who -- or what -- you care about.

Philanthropy, like love, is selfless and unobliging.  A good reminder for lovers…and givers.

On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal and is contributed by Ellen Wilkinson for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.