On Philanthropy: The Touching Driveway Moment that Will Save the World and Preserve Your Rec Room

image of parents in doorway of home watching their son loading his vehicle with boxesContributed by AFPSEWI
Milwaukee Business Journal
September 13, 2019 issue

This fall your kid may head off to college for the first time, perhaps with only the vaguest idea about a career.  As he or she backs down the driveway, you have one last chance to influence their future.  My suggestion:  wave them down, lean through the window and, in your gravest James Earl Jones voice, intone:

“My child, the ambitious among us want a rewarding career.  The thoughtful among us want to build a better world.  Those who are ambitious and thoughtful go to work for nonprofit organizations.”

Ignore the quizzical look that became so familiar during your child’s endearing teen years.  Forge quickly ahead, saying:

“Nonprofits today employ 12 million Americans.  The sector has grown into the nation’s third largest employment category, just behind retail (16 million) and manufacturing (12 million).”

They will nod thoughtfully, as they always do when you impart parental wisdom and statistics.  You have them hooked.  Bring it home with:

“Whether their mission is education or healthcare, safe neighborhoods or food security, ethical government or a healthy earth – nonprofit workers make irreplaceable contributions to our quality of life.  And you can too.”

If they ask the reason for this touching driveway revelation, answer:

“Because, while these roles become popular career choices, few youngsters actually prepare for them.  The result is a serious leadership gap in the sector.  One of those unfilled, rewarding jobs could one day be yours – stimulating your mind, stirring your passions, and lessening the chance you will move back into our basement four years from now.”

Do not be distracted by the distant heavenly chorus or the sun breaking from behind the clouds. Just look into the inspired eyes of your offspring and know that you have, once again, helped to make the world (and your rec room) a better place…

On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter. This month’s column is contributed by Doug Diefenbach.