Capacity to give

EmptyPocketsI’m out here in Southwest Ohio right at the Alumni Board meeting for the college I graduated from over 21 years ago (yikes)… well kind of. The college I attended officially closed in 2008, then through a series of efforts by a large number of folks, it reopened but with many casaulties (including all the former tenured faculty and all current students at the time).

So it’s a officially a new ‘non-successor’ instituion, while at the same time using the same name and geographic location as the former college. The current president takes pride in referring to the new college as a ‘160 year old startup’. They refer to alumni and our ‘rich history’ on one hand, and then on the other they state they are a new college and aren’t bound by any assumptions or associations with the ‘old college’. Basically it seems like if an association is an asset, they claim it, and if not, they don’t. Confused yet? I am and I’ve been following this for years.

So I just spent a weekend not only getting told whats happening on campus, but why we and everyone we know needs to give ‘personally significant’ gifts in order to help them succeed. More than once the term ‘capacity to give’ has been referred to, which basically means ‘How rich you are’. Like much in life, it’s frustrating to think that ones ‘capacity’ equates to how much influence and access one has to the decision makers. ‘But ain’t that America?’

If you had asked me when I was 22 and graduating how ‘well off’ I’d be when I was 44, I would have guessed much higher, surely I’d be able to give ‘personally significant gifts’ of large amounts and I would be debt free and be saving and investing money etc. Well.. sadly.. not so much. Mind you, this is all a matter of perspective and it’s certainly a ‘first world problem’ to bitch and moan that I don’t have extra money to give away, but after being told what at least one organization needs, it’s frustrating that I am not able to help them in any manner that they, or anyone else, would believe is ‘personally significant’.

Here’s hoping when I’m 66 I’ll be at that point, though sadly I suspect.. not so much. Sorry all worthy non-profits, I’m not a good prospect. I’ll sign your petitions and cheer your victories but when it comes to the almighty dollar, ‘it ain’t me babe’