Friday, August 17, 2012

Mindful Giving - Day Sixteen

From January to June, I had an enjoyable and lucrative position as a consultant to a fundraising event. I feel a sense of loyalty and affection for this organization but sadly I can’t afford to work for them for free. Also, they have been continually re-organizing lately, and their latest round of leaders leave a lot to be desired. They’ve made some really bad decisions – like firing one of the most well-liked development people and being insensitive to donor concerns – that have wound up really alienating their base of support. It’s almost like they are trying to do poorly, for some mysterious reason.

For certain, it was clear to me that the leadership no longer supports this event. So today, we had a meeting to discuss its future, and the committee’s decision was to put it “on hiatus” indefinitely. I’m sad that I won’t work on this event any more. I really enjoyed it this year. I’m sad that the other volunteers who have shown so much support and dedication won’t have the legacy of a successful event.

In support of the continuity of the event, and out of affection for the main organizers, I had been working off-contract, for free, for the last few months. There have been odds and ends that came up and needed to be dealt with, included setting up and organizing today’s meeting. So yesterday I spent more than two hours typing minutes, sending emails, and generally providing energy to this organization. Today I gave four hours of my time to drive out, take notes, and give my input. It was my gift to the possibility of continued success. From June ‘til now, I have completed another 10% of hours at no cost – a sizable gift.

Although I am sad to see this go, I know that this is the way of life. Something ends, and something else comes along to replace it. I know that putting positive energy out comes back in unexpected ways. For me personally, I think the connections I’ve made may lead to other things. If not, they’ve given me closeness and involvement with the people I cared about in this nonprofit well after I had had to leave it behind for practical reasons. Now, all of the people I loved at this place are gone – they’ve retired, been downsized, moved along, or in one devastating case, self-imploded in a spectacular debacle of fraud and deception that left everyone dazed for months.

Without better leadership in place, I don’t think there’s much I can do to build excitement and motivation about the mission or the work, never mind the funding of it. It’s sad, but there it is. Even at the national organization level, good energy brings more good energy and bad energy tends to muck everything up.


Yesterday, I cleaned out the area under the sink. I threw some junk away and reorganized the paint/art supplies and dish soap we keep there. Today, I scrubbed out the sink window box. I made a severe misjudgment in the war against the ants. I thought that if I put some ant traps up there, they would take the poison away and decrease in number. The opposite occurred. Apparently the traps were the ant version of awesome nightclubs. About 1000 ants crammed into each little one by two inch plastic box, making it completely black, and then called all their friends to tell them how awesome it was. So 5000 more ants were circling each trap, trying to find a way in. Just like a bad night in LA. So while I was scrubbing up all those ants, I cleaned the rest of the counter as well.

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