Cascading Gratitude

Gratitude: inspires cascades of generosity, and to give gratitude is to be the richer, not the poorer, for the giving. - William J. Jackson, Seven Myths of Philanthropy; Seven Opportunities in Understanding

I came across this quote a while back and my mind and heart are drawn to the implications of deep gratefulness. Recently I was visiting my hometown of Atlanta with my children, and as we were driving home one evening I looked up to find the “Hot Now” sign on at Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I couldn’t resist.

I pulled in and my children squealed with delight. As we devoured a dozen doughnuts (which had nothing to do with hunger) my car was full of “This is amazing!” “Mom, thank you SO much,” “This is such a great surprise.” With huge smiles on their faces and hearts full of gratitude we enjoyed the moment. I can’t help but think of how much I enjoyed that moment.  As delicious as the hot doughnuts were, it was my kiddos’ joy that I delighted in.

As I work in the philanthropic community I am profoundly aware of the financial needs of a multitude of organizations. The necessity for generous giving is overwhelming and the discussion typically centers on how to inspire donors to give abundantly. Seminars, discussions, organizations and products focus on how to motivate giving. Campaigns are developed, events are planned, and strategies are formed to meet the needs of organizations that have a passion to realize each of their visions. My industry is passionate about figuring out just how to get donors to open their checkbooks to meet these needs.

But have we somehow missed the most obvious answer—gratitude? What if we took some of our resources and focused on the relationships we have? What if we responded like my children and their hot doughnuts, in awe of the gifts we have received? Rather than wondering how to “grow the gift” we might be wiser to focus on how to express our thankfulness in a meaningful way. I believe this kind of response to donors—joyful, humble, proper gratitude—just might inspire cascades of giving in the philanthropic community!