Thirty-two years ago, I was fortunate enough to be offered a position running a foundation. I’ve been fortunate to be engaged in this work ever since. I’d like to share something I think about frequently, written by someone else, but someone who clearly was familiar with working at a foundation.

The below document is entitled “The Seven Temptations of Philanthropy.” Unfortunately, the author’s name seems to have vanished, and therefore we cannot give this list the attribution it deserves. Nevertheless, I can vouch for the sentiment…

TEMPTATION I — When we are asked by a grantseeker what we think of a project, we are tempted to believe he actually wants to know what we think.

TEMPTATION II — We are tempted to believe the real reason we are asked to serve on so many boards is our problem-solving capability.

TEMPTATION III — We are tempted to define “pro-active” as our idea, “reactive” as your idea.

TEMPTATION IV — We are tempted to display all the plaques, cups, paperweights and scrolls given to us. We are further tempted to occasionally read them out loud.

TEMPTATION V (PHASE I) — We are tempted to think that every proposal is lousy and nobody should get a grant.

TEMPTATION V (PHASE II) — We are tempted to think that every idea has merit, and that everybody should get a little something.

TEMPTATION VI (PHASE I) — We start believing all the flattery.

TEMPTATION VI (PHASE II) — We start insisting on it.

TEMPTATION VII — We are tempted to refer to foundations as us, grantees as them.”

After some additional prose (removed herein simply for the sake of brevity), the author concludes: “This thing I do may not have a name, and it may not really be a profession. But it may come close to being a calling, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”


Be well.


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