The Day-Trading Boss

If you haven’t yet worked for him or her, you probably will at some point.

He’s the VP who focuses more on metrics than on the relationships and processes the metrics are there to measure.

She’s the President who wants to know why gift officers aren’t asking for major gifts during a first meeting.

Day-traders often struggle to understand that inviting gifts is not the same as selling widgets.

There are no “giving markets” with “donors” (buyers) and “recipients” (sellers) transacting gifts based on self-interest.  Donors don’t need – at least not in the same way as buyers do in a marketplace – what recipients are providing.

Among other distinctions between the acts of giving and “buying and selling,” encouraging a generous response in others has an element of time that day-traders don’t comprehend.  Decision-making around acting generously is a complex human process involving emotion, logic, soul, and, yes, time.  Time to grow in the wisdom of why helping others is a benefit to you, the donor.  And time to develop the trusting relationships that help encourage generous impulses.

If you work for (or with) a day-trader, ask her to describe the lead-up to the most generous gift she has made.  How long did it take from the time she first thought of this significant gift to when she actually made it?  What steps occurred between when she first thought of the gift and when she made it?  Invite her to reflect on the process, the relationships, and yes, the time, it took to make that gift.

You will either remind your boss that giving is, indeed, a process.  Or, you will learn that he hasn’t yet made the decision to experience the joy of acting generously.   In either case, you will reinforce the fact that individual generosity isn’t mobilized through the same pathways that motivate day-traders.


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