By Kelley Kidd
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been learning what life within the fundraising world looks like. Primarily, I learned that this is prime fundraising season among non-profits. For my placement, I had the delight of attending a Thanksgiving luncheon and getting a glimpse into the fundraising world. There, I found abundant generosity and gratitude for the work my placement is doing. As we sat eating pumpkin pie and discussing volunteer opportunities, the obvious reality clicked that peak fundraising was probably linked to the spirit of giving and gratitude that accompany turkey, holiday lights and Starbucks red cups. Early on, I had made the connection that volunteering around the holidays peaked due to the general spirit of valuing kindred humanity. I’d also seen Salvation Army collections around Christmastime for similar reasons. It struck me, though, to witness at the higher level how incredibly giving people were. Yet once the New Year comes and winter gets harsher, this willingness seems to dissipate.
The season of giving, though it brings a rush of donations and volunteering for non-profits, also entails a sense of panic — it feels as though this moment in the year is the one and only chance to meet the year-round needs of organizations and the people they serve. When I attended an AVODAH advisory council meeting and got a glimpse into the extensive discussion of how to fundraise thoughtfully and delicately, I recognized how urgent it feels that this letter to be a home run. The year-end letter seemed to symbolize the big chance for AVODAH to obtain the funds it needs, and thus demands precision and care. At my placement, we have received abundant calls from people begging to volunteer on Thanksgiving Day, but unwilling to do so on Black Friday. The season of generosity seems to come with stipulations, despite the reality that the needs it meets do not vary accordingly. During this brief time of year when people intentionally focus on compassion, good cheer, and valuing the many ways they are blessed, their energy and dollars flow out to the people that often go forgotten.
New Year’s probably makes up the equivalent season for gym memberships– the season of determination. People need to get back on track after the holidays, and get back down to business. Black Friday turns us from contributing to consuming, and New Year’s resolutions nudge out gratitude. But what if instead the New Year’s resolution became to let that spirit blossom year-round, instead of withering through the rest of winter? On an individual level, this would be an opportunity to value and create joy surrounding everyday joys–something all of us could likely benefit from in the midst of cold winters. On a broader level, though, a focus on goodness and gratitude could cultivate an expanded sense of compassion and generosity. Giving wouldn’t have a season, because generosity and gratitude could become commonplace. Acknowledging what we have to be grateful for daily, instead of once a year, could lead to the recognition of how much each small thing can mean. The potential deep reverence for numerous blessings that could result from the resolution to stay aware and grateful even after the turkey, pumpkin, and peppermint have given way to icy cold evenings would generate the desire to contribute to the same small but meaningful joys of other humans who might otherwise go without them. The chance is coming, as the holiday season fast approaches, to reflect on what you want to bring out of celebrating gratitude, after the designated season ends.
Kelley Kidd is from Knoxville, TN, attended Georgetown University and is a Case Manager at Miriam’s Kitchen.