The news of the untimely passing of musician and star George Michael rocked the world this week. His death has led to the publication of numerous articles about his rise to fame, life struggles, and evolution as a person and performer.
In this BBC piece, we have an opportunity to learn about George Michael the philanthropist. What a legacy of giving Mr. Michael left and the difference he made in the lives touched by his generosity!
Considering Mr. Michael’s less well-known legacy of philanthropy presents a good opportunity to remember that the donors with whom we work are often deeper and more complex than our sometimes one-way relationships with them might enable us to realize. The attorney who has built a stellar reputation as a litigator may harbor a love of history and a particular era within it and might one-day fund faculty positions or even a center at a university that is dedicated to the study of the topic. A corporate executive may have a sister who has experienced breast cancer and want to support research into new treatments. An HR officer who has known employees whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence might want to support programs to help them move forward with their lives after they have achieved safety and security.
As you move into the new year I invite you to consider taking the time to meet in person with your most loyal donors to thank them for their generosity. Rather than asking for another gift, ask what drives the person’s interest in and generosity toward your nonprofit or a specific program that they are funding.
You may be surprised at what you will learn and the information may enable you to further engage the donor in the future in ways that are deeply meaningful to them and have a significant impact on the lives of those you serve. This is development, this is advancement, this is is how we together with our donors can change lives and the world.
Sophie Penney, Ph.D.