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May 2014 - Generosity Gameplan™

man teeing up golf shot


I’m sure you’ve had friends ask you to donate in support of their projects and charities. Social networks are a natural place to turn when raising money because there is already a relationship and goodwill there.

But giving when friends ask can be complicated. You get the joy of helping someone you love as well as the cause they support. But what if that organization isn’t really a priority for you—how can you say no and disappoint a friend? Let me step out and say this:

Saying no can be good for you and your relationships.

If you’re just giving because your friend asked and not from your heart’s desire to change the world, you can end up resentful. If you say yes once, maybe you’ll feel obliged to always say yes. You might wonder if you’re being judged on the amount you give. And how many requests can you field before you start to feel that your friendship is being used inappropriately.

Focus is freeing.

Here’s an example. My neighbor is on 10 nonprofit boards that work with the poor. It seems like he has asked me to help with every one of them—a golf outing here and a fundraising dinner there.

That is, he asked until I was able to clarify for myself and then for him that what my wife Jamee and I really care about is K-12 education. My neighbor was delighted that we have a focus, he no longer pushes me to give to his favorite causes, and most importantly, we are still good friends.

Do you know what your giving focus is? Would a focus help you deal with friends’ requests in a way that takes the pressure off both of you?

I created the Generosity Gameplan process for just this reason—to help people find their focus in a sea of great causes. My book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, will show you how.

RIDGE project Generosity Gameplan

Photo credit: The RIDGE Project

Last week I was with a team of folks in Columbus, Ohio, focused on poverty and family. The host organization was The RIDGE Project, an organization founded fifteen years ago by Ron and Cathy Tijerina. Their success rate in working with incarcerated men is stunning, beating the average national recidivism rates by 30 percentage points.

The demand for The RIDGE Project is sweeping the nation because they tie their very focused work to a bigger terrifying problem, the economic viability of American cities and freedom. At first blush, incarcerated men might seem distant from the big terrifying problem, but their donors say, “Not so.”

Emerging from conversations like this one is a process for obtaining catalytic funding for our nation’s most intractable problems. Unlike small contributions or tips, which just keep things ticking along, catalytic funding creates or accelerates real change. The process goes like this:

Challenge your favorite charity to do some thinking about tips from donors vs. catalytic funding. Is their solution linked to a big, terrifying problem? Do they need to increase the size, strategy, and budget of their solution? You contribute because it stirs your heart’s desire for change. Who else needs to be connected for good to solve the big, terrifying problem that you perceive?

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