When people ask, “So, how are things going?” -- I realize that they usually aren’t truly inquiring about me. They want to know HOW THINGS ARE GOING philanthropically speaking. What they’re asking is: Are you seeing any upturn in giving? Are you seeing good things happening? Are donations increasing? Any signs that we can hold on to that things are beginning to turn around? Often a community foundation is a real barometer for the economic environment and general well being of how folks are feeling. Many are asking us to test the wind, hold up a mirror and to provide some good news for what has been a pretty bleak time.
If you know me, you know that I am an optimistic realist. And what I tell folks who ask, (and even some who don’t!) is that we are seeing signs that things are getting better in North Carolina. Often, difficult times provide us an opportunity to refocus our efforts on what is truly important, to push us to get involved in ways that we may not have been before and to remind us of our empathy for our neighbors.
Too many of my friends and neighbors are out of work. We have rural communities who are struggling to gain a foothold in our changing economic environment. We still are facing most of the same issues and more than we were a year ago in North Carolina. But what we’re also seeing now is lack of complacency. We’re witnessing renewed involvement and energy and a true generosity of spirit.
Our donors are asking more questions -- of us and of grantees -- and many of those questions are focused on impact. The recession has made the environment much more competitive, but has also provided an opportunity for each of us to decide what issues are truly important to us. Often those are the ones we believe are making an impact. We are seeing more collaborative giving through giving circles and leveraging of gifts. We are seeing partnerships spring up in new ways and in new places.
If you know me, you know that I love my job. And what I love most of all are the people I get to meet and talk to. That is where I get my energy: from engaging with our donors and volunteers and learning about their interests and their passion and all the good stuff that is happening, right here in our communities.
I look forward to meeting with you and exchanging ideas through this blog -- and in person.