Sunday, September 16, 2007

Renewing the Faith of Fundraisers: Blue Rock Texas and La Reunion

I often struggle in my faith as a fundraiser. It can be so unfortunately easy to slip under the cold waves, as your dinghy is battered about by realities such as the disproportionately increasing number of non-profit organizations compared to the slow growth of donations, the ever-dwindling capacity to get the public's attention in a world bombarded by charity newsletters, emails, videos, blogs and appeals for support. . .

In the midst of this darkening storm, I am grateful today for two people who have renewed my faith in the uniquely human enterprise of philanthropy.

The first is Dodee Crockett, whom I recently met at the National Committee on Planned Giving's September meeting, which I blogged about here. Dodee is a CFP and a First Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch. She spends her time advising clients on how to plan their estates, and how to utilize their wealth to achieve their dreams.

In her presentation, someone asked her to describe her Blue Rock project. A sudden wave of delight and surprise washed over her -- she had enjoyed discussing her professional work, but you could see that suddenly she had tapped into that deep well of passion that fills her heart and life with meaning. She energetically talked about the artist ranch and studio, Blue Rock Texas, that she and her husband had created.

"We do not have children, and realized that this would be our legacy," she explained. The Crocketts have planned their estate so that Blue Rock will continue to be funded when they leave this life. Dodee truly is practicing what she preaches to her clients.

The second person who brings joy and renewed hope into my life as a fundraiser is my dear friend, Catherine Cuellar. For the past six years, Catherine has worked tirelessly as one of the shining stars at KERA public radio (broadcast in Dallas at 90.1 FM). She recently announced that she will be joining Pegasus News as Managing Editor.

Among the many other things that Catherine does in her life, she co-founded an artist residency in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas called La Reunion, "where life and art unite." In addition to being a place for local artists to gather, the organization itself is galvanizing the community around the idea that local art is relevant, powerful and ALL AROUND us... we need merely open our eyes, and get out there to find it.

(La Reunion also puts on some of the best events in our city... definitely worth subscribing to their eNewsletter)

Dodee and Catherine have both created spaces within their lives and worlds that are dedicated to their passion. This is not about fundraising: it's about allocating resources -- not just money, but time, emotion, thought, love -- into something outside of yourself. It's about creating legacies.

Thank you, Dodee and Catherine, for renewing our faith in people's capacity to give.