Thursday’s leftover turkey is now a sandwich staple. Black Friday has come and gone. And though the football marathon continues, next Thanksgiving is 363 days away.
Thanksgiving’s traditional definition goes something like this: Although bad things happen to us all, we have much for which to be grateful. To give thanks, we pause the fourth Thursday of each November with friends and family to acknowledge our blessings.
Nothing wrong with that. The important holiday – for many the year’s most treasured – first occurred in 1621 at Plymouth Plantation after the Pilgrims landed the previous year at Plymouth Rock. Though many lost their lives during the overseas journey from England, the Pilgrims gave thanks for a new home where they could worship as they chose.
Yet this is where the wordsmith, fundraiser and philanthropist in me scratches his head.
”Hmmm,” I said to my 11-year-old daughter Thursday morning as we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “Thanksgiving is great. But what if we thought about the holiday differently?”
The alternative definition could read: I’m thankful for all I have. To show my appreciation, I give. Not just one day a year or occasionally; I express thanks for my good fortune every day.
Time this weekend at Kate’s family farm in Brookfield, Mo. reminds me of her late grandmother, Lois Schofield. Grandma Scho, as we called her, continually gave to others. Until the day cancer won her over, she transported those who couldn’t drive to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store and other places they needed to be in the small north central Missouri town.
“The old ladies rely on me,” she told us one Sunday afternoon as she hurriedly left our house to make the two-hour drive home before sunset, by then well into her 80s. “I’ve got to take one of them to the doctor tomorrow morning.”
My late grandpa, Joe Beem, developed the hobby of woodworking to help him cope with the death of my biological father, Richard. Over the course of his ensuing years, he spent his spare time designing, building and giving clocks to those who’d done good things. Many Joe Beem clocks still hang in homes and offices, marking time with the same positive tempo that guided his life.
When I was finishing college and setting my career sites, two books persuaded me that professional fundraising was a worthy vocation. James Gregory Lord’s The Raising of Money: Thirty-Five Essentials Every Trustee Should Know pointed me to the opportunities volunteers and fundraisers have to connect philanthropists and organizations that advance their passions. And Douglas M. Lawson’s Give to Live: How Giving Can Change Your Life introduced me to giving’s physical, emotional and spiritual dividends.
Though they were active readers, I’m confident Grandma Scho and Grandpa Beem never laid eyes on Lord’s and Lawson’s books. But they did understand the excitement that comes from giving to things they cared about and the personal rewards philanthropy yields.
Like Grandma Scho and Grandpa Beem, each of us can express appreciation for the good things in life by giving – and inviting others to do the same. Worthy causes certainly need money, but volunteering time and lending expertise are also important.
Thanksgiving is almost a year way. But we can celebrate thanksgiving every day.
Hartsook President and CEO Matthew J. Beem Earns Ph.D.
Beem family: Joe, Matt, Kate,
Tom (not pictured, Maggie)
(Kansas City) Matt Beem recently earned a doctor of philosophy in organizational behavior and higher education administration from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. He defended his dissertation, Performance-Based Fundraiser Compensation: An Analysis of Preference, Prevalence and Effect, in December 2018.
Beem examined the preference for and prevalence of performance-based compensation and the relationship between it and productivity within the sample population of professional fundraisers. He reviewed the history of fundraiser compensation and prevalence of incentive pay in the nonprofit sector and among professional fundraisers, including its correlation to performance.
The Fundraiser Compensation Survey, an original study, was emailed by the Mid-America Chapter of Fundraising Professionals to more than 3,000 individuals. Findings revealed respondents’ dissatisfaction with the relationship between goal attainment, performance and compensation in their jobs. The study also found significant compensation differences based on respondents’ gender and ethnicity – findings different from research discussed in the literature review.
Beem’s dissertation adds important knowledge about the prevalence of and desire for performance-based compensation within the sample population. It also sheds light on the effect performance-based compensation has on the amount of money fundraisers raise.
Hartsook continues to be available to support nonprofit organizations in compensation plan design for its fundraisers, executive directors, CEOs and other senior leaders.
P.O. Box 410046
Kansas City, MO 64141
Fax: 866.630.8595 [email protected]
“Nobody is giving money away. But every day, millions of dollars are given away to change lives.” – Bob Hartsook, Chairman