24 January 2013

Philanthropic Considerations #5: My Takes on Certain Philanthropic Terms

For a while, I have been bothered by the use of certain terms in philanthropic discourse. Not the terms, themselves, mind you, but rather the way in which they're used. Although I've made brief references to them before, I finally wanted to address these terms here. 

Term #1: "Planned Giving" - As mentioned elsewhere, I consider this term to refer to one looking at one's giving for a certain time period (typically, a year, but could both be longer (e.g. 5-year plan) or shorter (1-month, 3-month, or 6-month plans))) and figuring out not only how much to give, but also whither the allocations would go. For the past two years, I have worked on our planned giving at the beginning of the Gregorian calendar year to determine where we will give (working within a certain amount of money budgeted that my wife and I have negotiated) (granted, we also set aside some money for things that come up (e.g. emergency relief funds)). 

Term #2: "Development" - As mentioned elsewhere, I am horrifically bothered by the use of this term in reference to raising money. Frequently, organizations will reference their fundraising activities as "development work" or have a "development officer" who mainly serves to raise funds. Just call it what it is: fundraising! What is, then, to my mind, development? It's primarily either expanding an organization or creating a new route/initiative/etc. Just as in "Research & Development" of technology companies, the 'development' is creating and advancing the products that the company is producing. The first time I came across a 'development officer' (during my first year at YCT), I thought her job was to work on developing the curriculum or on professional development of the students. It could also have been organizational development, which is streamlining or making the organization more efficient. I was shocked when I discovered the position wasn't meant to improve the organization, but merely to raise funds. If one is raising funds or endeavoring to do so, that's fundraising; if one is seeking to affect development of one sort or another, that is actually development. 

Term #3: "Creating a Legacy" - A legacy is something one creates that endures - not only in one's lifetime, but also following their lifetime. However, I somehow seem to encounter this term primarily as only leaving a post-lifetime gift (maybe I'm encountering a very limited body of literature). Nevertheless, one can create a legacy whilst one is still alive, which can benefit those even in one's own lifetime. Obviously, this legacy - whether financially or otherwise - should hopefully endure to survive the giver's/creator's lifetime. 

Thus ends my little rant on philanthropic terminology. If I have any future semantic gripes, I'll be sure to share them....

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