Most of my blog posts are about fundraising nuts and bolts. This post is a little more philosophical. Your feedback in the comments section below is appreciated.
The Jimmy Stewart film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” has been an enduring holiday favorite and I think I understand why.
It’s that time of year when we reflect over the past twelve months and take a longer look at where we are in our lives. And inevitably this includes drawing comparisons to others.
The overarching theme for me is how incredibly fortunate I am. I know I am loved. I am relatively healthy for my age. I’m of sound mind (at least I think I am!). I have a roof over my head, food, and I can pay my bills. All my basic needs are met.
I hope that most people who read this are in the same boat. We are doing OK, or better.
As a child, I did not understand how fortunate I was. My parents stayed married to each other, providing stability. They were actively engaged in my life. They made sure that I received an excellent education. They encouraged me to be independent and supported my choices, even if they didn’t understand or agree with them. They were there for me.
As a child, I did not understand how fortunate I was to live in the United States which has enjoyed relative prosperity and peace within its borders for many decades.
When I was a teenager, my parents taught me that not everyone was as financially comfortable as we were, not everyone had the access to education, housing, food security, and personal safety that we did. They taught me that it was important to appreciate our circumstances and to be caring and compassionate towards others who did not have the advantages that we did.
This year, as I reflect on my current situation, I count my blessings that I do not live in one of those parts of the world where I must worry about losing my friends and family to enemy bombs or soldiers, or about whether my home will still be there when I come back from the grocery store. I count my blessings that I am not among the 43% of South Carolina households that don’t earn enough money to meet their basic human needs.
My parents were very active in their community, serving on many different organizations’ boards involved in healthcare, the arts, youth development, and other issues. They financially supported and volunteered their time for many projects they cared deeply about. They taught me that we have a responsibility to share our good fortune, whether it be time, talent, or treasure, to make the lives of others better. What they didn’t teach me was how gratifying it would be.
It was very natural for me to get involved with nonprofit organizations, first as a volunteer and then as an employee.
For almost 20 years I worked in the insurance industry. Although it was financially rewarding, it wasn’t fulfilling. When I was offered an opportunity to work as a fundraiser for an organization it seemed like a good fit for my background and interests, so I jumped at the chance. And I’ve never looked back.
Knowing that I go to work every day to make the world a better place, whether by providing better healthcare, improving access to education, or making cultural organizations more stable, has been deeply satisfying. As this year ends, I am grateful for having the opportunity to work in the nonprofit field and looking forward to new opportunities to help nonprofit organizations accomplish their missions.
However, it is not just our career choices that make a life. It is the people around us, some by birth, some by accident, some by choice, who have made the lives we have possible.
While I’m grateful for my career choices, I am also truly grateful for all the people in my life who have made it possible – my husband, parents, family, friends, teachers, mentors, and employers. Thank you all!
It has indeed been a wonderful life!
As 2023 comes to a close, what are you grateful for? What are you looking forward to in 2024?