Every so often, I see myself as a Jewish version of Ann Romano from the 70’s sitcom, One Day at a Time, only, I’m without a Schneider. While this periodic thought gives me (and sometimes others) a good chuckle, it’s pretty spot on.
My daughters and I could really benefit from a Schneider, and sometimes, I daydream about having a Schneider-type nearby, only he doesn’t look like the actor, Pat Harrington, not that there was anything wrong with Pat Harrington’s looks. My fix-it guy is more like Schneider Jackman. He fixes everything, sings, dances, has a fine Australian dialect and is a philanthropist.
When I got divorced, my daughters were very young. I often took them to fundraising and outreach nonprofit events whenever kids were welcome. Taking the kids with me to these events meant I didn’t have to pay a babysitter, and though we weren’t rolling in the dough, this isn’t really why I dragged them to nonprofit events.
From the time they were born, I wanted to raise them not only to appreciate philanthropy, but to BE philanthropists. I wanted them to venture outside of their circles to see diverse types of communities and struggles that are difficult to observe at any age. I like to believe that this is one reason they are both extraordinarily empathetic, think deeply about diverse communities and the root causes of oppression.
When my daughters were very young, I would “hire” them to volunteer at our nonprofit events. My eldest daughter was and is a natural fundraiser. When she was about seven or eight, she greeted attendees at registration for a free event. She raised almost $900 at a free event.
Recently, my youngest daughter took it upon herself to practice learning about a nonprofit’s programs and initiatives, so when she volunteered for an event, she’d be able to speak about the work comfortably. She was fantastic and especially because she’s pretty shy.
As the girls grew, I kept teaching them the importance of philanthropy and especially giving monetary and non-monetary contributions anonymously. In my opinion, the philanthropy where I have received no credit whatsoever, invariably have the highest return on investment. I’m not sure how much the joy of anonymous giving stuck with my daughters, but they know that it’s a core value in our house.
When my eldest daughter was around 10 years of age, she asked me, “When are you going to stop this fundraising stuff and get back on stage?” Naturally, a conversation, (lecture), about the importance of and responsibility we have to help make this world better, ensued. I think she rolled her eyes at me.
Now, my daughters are almost 13 and 10. They have both elected to participate in working with special needs kids at their schools. They have what I think is a deeper understanding of our collective responsibility to humankind and by all appearances, are budding philanthropists. (This doesn’t negate the fact that periodically, I would like to donate my smart-mouthed tween as an in-kind donation to just about any organization.)
We still don’t have that much money, but one doesn’t need a lot of money or any money to be a philanthropist. In our home, we are all philanthropists.
The daughter who several years ago asked me when I’d leave fundraising and return to the stage, recently said to me in the car, “Mom, I know what you do and I understand why you do it. It is so fly. I’m proud of you.”
I think she really meant it, but I’m also pretty sure she wanted something.
If I had my druthers, schools and for profit organizations would focus far more on philanthropy and its measurable benefits. The sense of entitlement and lack of practical life skills in our society could certainly use a strong dose of philanthropy.
The mess we are in… all that is broken in our society, can’t be fixed by Schneider. We do have philanthropy, and anyone can be a philanthropist. Anyone.
Plus, according to my eldest daughter, philanthropy is so phly, not phancy. (Well, sometimes its fancy.)
I fully agree with my daughter and will soon choreograph a phat philanthropy dance piece to be performed the next time we’re shopping together.
I’m a philanthropist, but I’m also a phun mom who sometimes enjoys her daughter’s phrowns.