Friday, August 31, 2012

The Paradox of Giving

                In my initial meeting with Coastal Community Foundation’s CEO, George Stevens, I was bewildered at his claim of the difficulty found in giving away money.  Although struck by his statement, I found myself struggling to find the validity in his words.  How could George, a leader whose work schedule is inundated with public speaking engagements, donor solicitations, and strategic planning sessions have difficulty in granting donations?   Selecting nonprofit recipients and awarding grants seemed, upon my initial contemplations, the easiest and most rewarding process accomplished by the Foundation.  However, after my recent site visit to HALOS, the heavy burden of choice was brought to fruition.  As I listened to testimonials given by grandmothers, expressing their heartfelt appreciation of HALOS’ Kinship Care Program, I felt compelled to extend support to this organization.  As I sat at a table with HALOS’ three, dedicated staff members, I craved an opportunity to accolade them for their heavily involved efforts and limitless compassion.  HALOS, I thought to myself, defined a deserving organization.  It was in that moment, that I finally recognized the truth behind George’s initial statements.   My emotions were overtaken by competing feelings of love and guilt.  How could I promote a grant to one organization, knowing that it would mean the denial of another worthy nonprofit group’s request?               

The process of narrowing grant recipients represents a paradox of beauty and pain.  Although the fruitful works of many Lowcountry nonprofits are inspirational, it is distressing to recognize that not all of them can receive a grant.  What provides ultimate comfort, however, is the knowledge that with the expertise of Coastal Community’s staff and through careful consideration taken by the grants committee, worthy designations will be made.  Not only do volunteer grant committee members and staff visit the sites, but they are actively engaged, asking extensive questions.  Although site visits serve as an important component of the grant-making process, the careful consideration does not end there.  After personally visiting all of the applicant sites, the committee meets to comprehensively evaluate all of the nonprofits and allocate grants accordingly.   The process, although arduous, is fruitful in its return, as it serves to promote the good of our entire community.

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