Blue Checkmarks and Birthdays

Blue Checkmarks and Birthdays

I’ve never really loved celebrating my birthday. I don’t know why. It’s not about getting older at all. And it’s not about the presents. While I appreciate them, every day is gift and a chance to do something big. It might be a little bit about the cake. There are so many birthdays in my family around my birthday that I’m so tired of cake by the time my special day arrives, and much to the dismay of almost everyone I know, I’m not a big ice cream fan at all…ever. And don’t even get me started on surprises. I’m too much of a planner to appreciate surprises.

But that’s when it’s my birthday. I love celebrating other people’s birthdays.  And this month, we’re celebrating a special one—the Community Foundation’s 38th.  Now if this was an anniversary, the modern gift would be tourmaline. What the heck is tourmaline you might ask? Well, that’s what I asked since I’d never heard of it in all my life!

Apparently, tourmaline is a stone that is supposed to foster compassion and is said to radiate the energy that attracts money, healing, and friendship. As unappealing as the word tourmaline is, the meaning of the stone sounds pretty spot on to the work of the Foundation.

We work with people that exemplify both passion and compassion. And the energy they bring to us is generosity. We’ve met some of the most selfless people in all of Grant County.  People who want to see healing take place, relationships grow, and a community thrive. When you can find meaning in something, whether it be a person, a passion, a place…or even a word like Tourmaline, if feels like finding all the outer pieces of a puzzle. You might not have it fully figured out, but you feel confident in knowing that things are taking shape.

That’s probably how a lot of local students are feeling this week.  Several are freshly done with their first week of school. They know where their locker is. They found new friends to sit with at lunch. Syllabus stress has hit but feels more manageable than it did on Day 1. Corner pieces are being found and they bring order even when the full picture won’t be complete for a while, yet it sure looks promising. I feel it, too.

Our syllabus stress is a bit different. It comes in the form of systemic problems with no quick systemic solutions. That’s part of the learning and the homework. Good thing we have a superpower—our donors.

Just last week, we had a donor come into the office to drop off a donation in person. It was a special gift for her family-named fund in memory of her husband. You see, her husband only had daughters, so there was no one to carry on his name. That’s why they chose to open a named endowment—knowing his name would carry on in perpetuity. What a beautiful couple. What a beautiful story. What a beautiful legacy.

But there was something even more special about this couple. They chose to open a Give To Grant Unrestricted Fund. That’s the type of fund that our Board uses to address the most current, pressing issues annually when we ask local charities to apply for funding through our open grant cycles.

Clearly, the needs we are addressing in 2022 are far different than those we began addressing in 1984 when we were a brand-new organization. And thirty-eight years from now, in the year 2060, the most pressing issues will reflect the needs of that generation. So, people that choose to open a named Give To Grant Unrestricted Fund tell us that they love the community so much that they want to be a part of the systemic solutions of the time—no matter what time that may be. It truly is one of the most generous ways to give our community a giant hug. However, this was only one reason this gift was so special.

Another reason?  There are no candles on our birthday cake! To celebrate, we decided to throw away the actual candle-lighting matches and use $1 for $1 matches instead. And we’re matching all donations that are given to a Community Foundation Give To Grant Unrestricted Fund from now through September 30, 2022. Our goal is to raise $138,000.  It was when we told this donor that her $100,000 gift was eligible for this match that the tears began to flow. Both hers and ours. It was the kind of moment that brings you shiver bumps when it’s 90 degrees outside—truly magical.

Oddly enough, she told us that just that morning she had prayed that she’d be able to build her family fund to $250,000 and she wasn’t sure how she would do that, but she wanted to try. Well, she’s not quite there yet but she’s pretty darn close and I could not be happier for her. Who needs candles when you have this to celebrate?

And that right there is what leads me to what drives me crazy about social media. Apps like Twitter and Tik Tok have those blue checkmarks that are supposed to tell you if someone is important or famous. I don’t know what the guidelines are for determining who is checkmark worthy, but I do know this, generosity isn’t reflected because this donor doesn’t have a blue check mark. In fact, none of our donors do and that’s just wrong.

If giving abundantly from your discretionary dollars to benefit someone you don’t know, or who you may never meet, simply to improve the quality of life of a person, a family, or a community doesn’t qualify someone for a blue check mark, then they’re doing it wrong. Those are the very people who deserve them. Not surprisingly, they’d also be the kind of people who’d never want a blue checkmark because they’re both amazing and humble.

That’s why I’m not using names today; humble givers don’t need or want the recognition. But they don’t mind their story being told as a way to encourage others to give.

So, it’s our birthday month. Thirty-eight amazing years. And we don’t really need any tourmaline. And there are enough birthdays this time of year that we don’t really need any cake either. But we would like you to take advantage of cool $1 for $1 match.

You can start a new, named Give To Grant Unrestricted Fund with a $2,500 donation that we’ll match dollar for dollar. Or you can donate to the Community Foundation’s master Give To Grant Fund and know that your gift will be matched at 100% and will help us extend our grantmaking impact to more local nonprofits that apply for funding with us in our next grant cycle.

You, our donors, are the ones who deserve the blue checkmarks. And we’re taking our birthday this year to celebrate you by offering this automatic 100% ROI for all unrestricted donations. And we promise to re-gift it to our nonprofit partners who serve as the hands and feet of social service in Grant County.

Feel free to call us if you have any questions… or just to say Happy Birthday. This year we’re celebrating you, the very people who got us to this special day. Thank you!

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