When I was in my graduate program in counseling, my instructors all were on a first-name basis with the students. Instead of Professor Jones, it was Bill. Instead of Dr. Bradley, it was Janice. In the rest of the academic departments, the Dr. in front or the Ph.D. behind seemed terribly important. But in the counseling department, we were told that titles and academic credentials and “alphabet soup” distanced people from each other. In counseling, the last thing we want is a feeling of distance from those we serve.
This lesson has stuck with me my entire life.
The other day, I was in a group of about 9 or 10 women, many of whom were new to me. We were asked to go around the table to say what we do. I said I worked for the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. My friend pushed me to continue by saying, “Where you are the President…”
In such circumstances I often find myself explaining that the work we do depends on an all-important team of staff and volunteers. Without donors we can do nothing. Nor can anything be accomplished without the work of the inventive and hard-working nonprofit organizations we fund. When you think about the interconnections and the critical importance of each piece, titles don’t seem so important anymore.
Finally, we are THE COMMUNITY’S FOUNDATION. We have a heavy responsibility for the stewardship of the COMMUNITY’S ASSETS and the best use of those for the COMMUNITY’S FUTURE. And whether you offer $5 or $50,000 or $500,000 to support the work of the Community Foundation—or you offer 5 hours or 50 hours or 500 hours of your time, you are an important and necessary part of the work. It seems that in philanthropy as well, the last thing we want is a feeling of distance from those we serve.
Sometimes people seem surprised that the President and CEO of the Community Foundation will take the time to meet with them – whether to listen to an idea, or to offer advice, or to brainstorm to structure a way to support their charitable passion. Don’t be surprised. It is just Denise. And for her, it is an EVERYDAY MATTER, TO MAKE EVERY DAY MATTER. Give me a call: 843-681-9100. Let’s see how you can become an all important piece of the puzzle of strengthening community as well.
Denise K. Spencer