I published this piece a year ago on my mother’s birthday which is in December. She’s been gone for almost 20 years now but her legacy lives on in the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that are part of her family line.
I am reposting this article about legacy because she is the perfect example of the phrase we use in our work: anyone can leave a legacy. As a first-generation American who lived through the Depression mom didn’t have much, yet what she did have she shared.
She gave in simple ways, in the church collection plate and by leaving food on the porch for people passing through the community who had no home. Those may seem small contributions but like the story of the starfish being thrown into the ocean one at a time, her gifts made a difference for each hungry person who came by or stayed in our house.
As I have aged I have come to realize that it was my mother’s example that led me to become a giver. In some ways, it was also she who led me to become a fundraiser. I certainly didn’t seek to raise funds because the idea of picking pockets, being a beggar or asking people for money appealed to me.
I do what I do because, like my mom, I believe that giving is about changing and saving lives (sometimes of the donor as much as the recipient).
I have been honored to serve organizations such as Penn State, Foxdale Village, Centre Safe, Centre Care and other nonprofits as a staff member or consultant. That work has enabled me to plan and implement capital campaigns, coach and train executive directors and board members, and assess fundraising performance. I have also helped people to determine what their legacies will be and have been fortunate to teach some members of the next generation of fundraising leaders.
Mother, I didn’t do a very good job of honoring you during your lifetime. Today I honor your legacy through my words and work.
I didn’t say it when you were alive, thank you mother. Thank you for giving me life and for being the role model that you were, you may be gone, but your legacy lives on.