Sunday, July 1, 2007

Why Do I Give? What Upset Me?

Recently friends of mine who have a theatre company received their not-for-profit status from the Internal Revenue Service. It’s a matter for much rejoicing because the IRS doesn’t hand out 501(c)3 status without a lot of work. I immediately sent them a contribution.

This was a few months ago. I never heard from them. Not a call, an email, nor a tax deduction letter. I don’t like this about myself, but it bothered me. It also made me look at why I give. One question I asked was, do I give to get thanks?

The real answer is no, I don’t. But it bothered me that they hadn’t thanked me, or acknowledged my gift for tax purposes. I had to dig deeper about what was bothering me. When I went to see a performance of theirs last night, there was a list of donors in the program. My name wasn’t there.

Some of you know that I have a lot of experience in the professional theatre. The theatre started out to be my career on earth until life made a mid-course correction for me. It took most of the first act to figure out why I was bothered by the omission.

At the reception afterward, I was finally clear enough to mention the experience without sniping. (There were layers of emotion to work through till I was clear.) I cornered one of the founders, told her my story, and finally got to the crux of the matter for me. It was one of conscience.

I said, “I don’t care if my name is listed. That’s not the point. The point is that if my gift was overlooked, what others were overlooked, and are you hurting yourself by being out of integrity in your business dealings?” The co-founder got it in one.

I give, dear one, because, like all humans, I like to give. It makes me feel good. Public acknowledgment for giving is nice, but that’s not the point. I was upset in behalf of my friends because I was worried that they’d offended other donors.

Moral of the story: look carefully at your upsets. What you think is personal might not be personal at all.

1 comment:

Court said...

Completely agree with you. You were on-target to mention the oversight to your friends. It sounds like you handled the issue in a beautiful way, Susan. --CS