4 Types of ‘PERSONAL’ Your Nonprofit Must Adopt Today
Much of philanthropy occurs during holiday seasons. These sacred days – often shared with family and friends — encourage us to look deeply at our lives, our actions, our blessings, our challenges and our dreams for the future. We think about being a better person… reaching out more generously… sharing our blessings… giving back.
Recently, on one of the holiest* days in Judaism, Rosh Hashonah, I sent a note to my friends and family reflecting on the fact that the Torah/Bible begins with a story about a God who did not need to create the world except for one small thing. God needed someone to love. This is the core nature of the universe. Perhaps not so coincidentally, it’s also the core nature of philanthropy (which translates to love of humankind).
Philanthropy is more than the giving of money. Money is great, and important. But when money is in short supply, we still have many kinds of wealth to share. Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, DHL www.bradartson.com notes that we always have something to give to someone else, even if what it is, is a smile; even if what it is, is a word of encouragement, a handshake, a hug, a moment spent in conversation. There are things that only you can provide to other people that are the call of the moment.
It is deeply human to connect to our sisters and brothers. And holidays give us that time and space to reflect on what it means to be human. We are all part of one giant, magnificent network – something larger than ourselves – and this holds true for all the major religions, and whether or not one believes in a higher power.
Right now, the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur is approaching. It is a time when we are encouraged to reflect on profound themes – our values, our traditions, our mission in this world, and the gifts one generation gives to another. There are many ways we are touched by others, and so many ways we can return or pay forward the favor. It only requires thinking; then acting. The acts can be simple and immediate. And they will connect us.
First, let’s talk about thinking. During challenging times, it is tempting to think about all the things that are going wrong. To be anxious. To be fearful. To despair. There is, of course, another choice. We can think about our blessings. We can be brave. We can be hopeful.
Second, let’s talk about acting. The high holy days remind us there is a deadline. Our time on this earth is finite. We can change the outcome of our lives. We can see light at the end of the tunnel. We can love. We can take pride and joy in ourselves and our loved ones and our community. We can be grateful. We can be of service. You may be thinking “but I don’t have a calling,” and that may be true. It can be difficult to find. But you can find it. Check out http://www.taramohr.com/2011/04/how-to-recognize-your-calling/
Finally, let’s talk about change. Mahatma Gandhi famously said: You must be the change you wish to see in the world. It’s not easy. But it’s possible. One baby step at a time. Let’s remember the famous saying from the ethical teachings of the Talmud: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it” (Pirkei Avot 2:21), attributed to Rabbi Tarfon. We don’t have to do it all. We must only begin. That’s why holidays can be such powerful times in our lives. They give a fresh start. They bring an opportunity to reflect. And, if we’re so inclined, they offer a chance to connect with other people – family, friends, and community.
It is traditional on Yom Kippur to dress in white (like a shroud). It reminds us that we are mortal. Life is fleeting. So we must treasure what we have. This requires being present, being aware. We all know where we’re all going. And we’re all together in this. There is so much we can achieve for one another during the brief period we are together on this earth. And we always have the opportunity to make changes in the way we live our lives. May the year ahead be spent in love of humanity, and in the service of compassion.
What one simple act will you do tomorrow to connect and affirm life?
*I’ve always mixed up “holy” day with “holiday” as they seem so much the same thing. Among the definitions of holy is “worthy of veneration”. I’ve always felt this way about holidays, the pursuit of which (in MY family) has always been something of a holy quest. Holidays are a way to celebrate and affirm life – and nothing can be more holy. Holidays are a wonderful time to bless our children, bless our parents, bless our friends and bless those who are currently strangers, but who may become friends. We’re all in this together. May your life be a blessing.