Getting the Gift vs. Giving the Gift

What if, instead of development professionals focusing on “getting the gift,” we focused on “giving the gift?”

There is growing and substantial research evidence suggesting that giving to others reaps meaningful physical, spiritual, and emotional benefits for the donor. Two of the early researched-based books on the topic were Allan Luks’,  The Healing Power of Doing Good and Douglas Lawson’s, Give to Live.

Among the noted benefits of giving:

  • Reduced stress;
  • Insomnia relief;
  • Enhanced sense of well-being;
  • An enhanced immune system;
  • Living longer;
  • Getting sick less often.

Now, I wouldn’t suggest a paternal approach to donors wherein you articulate these benefits to them during the ask.

But think about the power of this concept!

I believe we could transform philanthropy – our results, our activities, our energy, our degree of commitment and our enthusiasm – if we fully embraced the idea that our job is to give these benefits to donors as opposed to get something from them.   Giving is good.  And our job is to spread the goodness.

We focus regularly on how philanthropy benefits those served by our organization.  But our donors are never part of that group.  Perhaps if we included them in the “those we serve” category, we would develop a new and intense passion for our work.

1 Comment

One Comment

  1. This is a wonderfully simple concept that, I agree, could transform the way we approach development work. I remember first articulating a somewhat similar concept to a major donor in 1995 when I was just getting starting in this work. I told the donor that I was not there for a gift but to give him the opportunity to connect his need to give with the institution’s need to fulfill its mission and vision; that he should only make a gift if it made his life more enjoyable. He never forgot that conversation and I have used it over and over again. Giving should be equally beneficial for the giver and the receiver.

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