The word “philanthropy” is said to have been coined some 2,500 years ago in ancient Greek. It means, “the love of humanity.”
The vast majority of your long time donors and your major donors are philanthropic. They give in support of your institution because they believe it will make a difference in the lives of others. Yes, there are other by-products of giving (a reduction in taxes, being accepted in a certain social circle, etc.). But those by-products are not why they give. The fundamental driver encouraging people to make repeated or major gifts is a desire to make the world or some small part of it better for other people.
We often talk about the importance of finding alignment between a donor’s values and the values of our institution. If we make that important connection – if we find that alignment – a major gift is possible.
But what about your personal values? What about what drives you? If your bottom line is money (either yours or the donor’s), or the status of position, or satisfying your ego, or some other non-philanthropic value, you might want to find another vineyard in which to toil. Because you aren’t going to be effective over the long-term with donors.
People give to people through institutions. So, not only does the donor have to value your institution. They have to know you value philanthropy as deeply as they do.