I’m not politically in synch with Arthur C. Brooks, the President of the American Enterprise Institute, but I loved his March 29, 2014, Op-Ed in the New York Times, “Why Fund-Raising Is Fun.”  Brooks draws on social science research like this 2008 article in Science magazine, which argues that we are made happier by giving money and time to others than by spending money on ourselves.  Giving to others raises our well-being in part because it enhances what social psychologist Albert Bandura has termed “self-efficacy,” the belief that our actions can make a desirable difference in the world.  By giving more of ourselves, Brooks posits, we  might even enrich ourselves materially as well as emotionally, since enhanced self-efficacy can lead to more focused and effective actions in other spheres.  Potential donors – ourselves included – possess three assets that are often disconnected:  money, time, and convictions.  By helping  people bring those assets together and contribute to a cherished cause, fund-raisers spur “an alchemy of virtue,” in Brooks’s elegant phrase. 

Does Brooks’s analysis ring true to your own experience as a donor?  Does your development staff find Brooks’s insights inspirational?  I hope you’ll let me know.

 


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