Check out my published white paper!!

X + Y = $

Generational Philanthropy

By Renee C. Herrell, M.A., CFRE

(published as a white paper in the July Compass Group Newsletter)

So what is Generational Philanthropy? Generational Philanthropy simply refers to the way each generation engages in donating their time, treasure and talent. As fundraisers, it is important for us to understand how and why each generation donates, so that we can approach them through the proper vehicles and build long-lasting, loyal relationships.

In this article, we will take a look at the different characteristics and giving habits for Generation X and Y, as well as strategies on how to effectively engage these younger generations as donors. Research shows that over half of Baby Boomer and Traditionalist donors first learned about their top charity in their 30’s[1], so a strong case can be made for engaging Generation X and Y now to build major donors for the future.

 

Generation X

Generation X has a population of 62 million individuals born between 1966 and 1980 and makes up 24% of the total population[2]. Defining people and events in the lives of these individuals include the collapse of the Soviet Union, Reaganomics, corporate downsizing, punk rock, Iranian hostage crisis, space shuttle Challenger tragedy, O.J. Simpson trial, video games, MTV, Rodney King riots, and computers in school.

Generational characteristics include skeptical, pragmatic, adaptable, self-reliant, informal, techno-literate, diversity-minded, and focused on today[3]. Gen X thinks their generation is unique because of their technology use, work ethic, conservative and traditional views, intelligence, and respectfulness[4].

Gen Xers makes up 32% of the current work population with 51 million workers[5]. They are a well-educated group, holding more degrees than their older counterparts. They are problem solvers, entrepreneurial, and known for taking risks. Gen Xers place great importance in finding a balance between work and home; choosing to “work to live,” as opposed “live to work”[6].

Over half (58%) of this population makes donations comprising almost 36 million donors. The average Gen Xer contributes $796 annually for an estimated total of $28.6 billion per year[1]. Gen X is first engaged with nonprofits (in priority order):

  • By making a direct donation
  • Visiting an organization’s website
  • Volunteering, supporting a friend participating in a charity walk or run or promoting the charity online.

Of all the generations, they donate the most through websites. Gen X philanthropists are often moved to donate after hearing inspirational stories from a nonprofit regardless of their past support.

They first learn about their top charities (in priority order):

  • Through mainstream media
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Mail
  • Peer-to-peer events
  • Work
  • Product purchase[7].

Almost a third of Gen Xers first learned about their top charity during their childhood[8]. Charities with whom they had pre-existing relationships, Gen X donors said the most appropriate form of solicitation was via a friend, followed by a letter mailed from the charity, then an email from the charity, and lastly a message on Facebook from the charity[9].

Gen Xers tend to give the same amount to their top charity every year, typically for seven years. Their giving is influenced by their friends and family and sometimes based on “heart string” stories that move them rather than a sense of loyalty to a particular cause. Of all the generations, they donate the most through websites, making them more of a viral donor and harder to recruit and build a personal relationship with.

 

 

Generation Y

Generation Y is the youngest generation born 1981 to present with a population of 83 million individuals in the United States[10]. Defining events and people in the lives of Gen Y include 9-11, Iraq conflict, Enron scandal, emerging countries and global economy, the Columbine shooting, President Obama, American Idol, iPods, reality television, Mark Zuckerberg, and the new mainstream reality of social networking. Generational characteristics include being technology savvy, connected 24/7, optimistic, confident, comfortably self-reliant, entrepreneurial, success driven, inclusive, and environmentally minded[11]. Gen Yers think their generation is unique because of their technology use, music, pop culture, liberal and tolerant views, intelligence, and their clothes[12].

They are digital natives and fully immersed in the online world (i.e., Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs). Not surprisingly, when staying in touch with friends and colleagues, Gen Y uses email most frequently, followed by Facebook and texting[13].

It is a generation of strong-willed, passionate, and optimistic youth. They have great expectations and are known for expecting (and demanding) to get what they want.

They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults[14]. They’re less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history[15].

Gen Y is the fastest growing population in the U.S. workforce. With 40 million workers, they constitute 25% of all workers[16].

Generation Y is the youngest group of philanthropists, but an increasingly active group. Over half (56%) of the population are donors. The average Gen Y individual contributes $341 annually for an estimated total generation contribution of $9.7 billion per year. These younger donors plan to increase their charitable contributions to their top charity next year[17]. In 2009, nearly 15% of Gen Yers gave at least one gift of $1,000 or more[1].

They first learn about their top charities through:

  • Mainstream media
  • Word-of-mouth
  • School
  • Peer-to-peer events[18]

Charities with whom they had pre-existing relationships, Gen Y donors said the most appropriate form of solicitation was via a friend, followed by an email from the charity, message on Facebook from the charity and lastly, a text from the charity[19]. As philanthropists, they value volunteering as well as financial giving. Members of Generation Y are more likely than any other generation to cite the “desire to make the world a better place to live” as a key motivation for their philanthropic giving[20].

Gen Y is techno-savvy and responds positively to building a relationship with a nonprofit online. Nonprofits can utilize low cost online relationship-building tools like email, websites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter to engage these younger donors. Not surprisingly, direct mail solicitations have little to no impact. Not only are Gen Yers willing to donate their own funds, they are more likely than other generations to fundraise for their favorite causes and ask for donations from their peers. They donate through a variety of channels: online, in person, and by check. It behooves nonprofits to understand the ways that Gen Yers give now, as the generation will probably continue to use the same giving channels as they age.

 

Six Steps to Engage Young Donors

Despite their younger age, Gen X and Y desire to donate to nonprofits because they want to leave a mark now in order to leave an impact. Often they become initially engaged because of a personal experience but ultimately, they want to make philanthropy a part of the way they live. So how do you effectively engage the next generation? Here are six steps to engage young donors:

1. Host events for young professionals

Events are a popular way to engage young people because they enjoy socializing with their peers.There are a few easy steps to creating a young professionals’ event.

  1. Choose one evening mid-week to host your event after work hours.
  2. 2.     Select a location. Your organization is ideal if you have space. Otherwise, choose cost effective, up and coming or trendy eating/drinking establishment.
  3. 3.     Choose an enticing focus for the event like art or music that will attract a younger crowd.
  4. Determine a minimal entrance fee between $5-$15.
  5. Spread the word to Gen X and Yers using social media and other media outlets.
  6. Provide tasty drinks and food.

Lastly, and most importantly, provide event attendees an opportunity to make a donation, become a member or get further involved with your organization.

 

2. Recruit for board & committee roles

Volunteering is a form of donating time and human resources. This is a favorable way to give for many young people, as they tend to have more time and fewer funds. Diversity on boards is highly desired and often hard to obtain. Did you know that diversity can include age as well? Look to recruit board members who are under the age of 40. If the board is hesitant to recruit younger members, invite younger individuals to join a board committee first allowing you to groom them and see how they might serve in a larger volunteer capacity in the future.

3. Engage in multi-channel communication

Having a multi-channel communication approach is an effective way to reach younger people. Social media is another tool to cultivate and stay in touch with young donors. Utilize social media outlets to tell and share stories from organization. Tell stories that demonstrate the success of your programs – such as stories about individuals who were positively affected by your organization. Post pictures and include quotes.

4. Ask young professionals to engage their peers

Young people like to fundraise for their personal causes. Often your organization will need an activity for your young fundraisers to focus their efforts around a walk or a run. Ideally you would be able to utilize an established event instead of creating a new one.Provide these young fundraisers with tips and tools for raising money, sample solicitation letters and thank you letters, individual online fundraising pages, and one-on-one training in fundraising. Let them lead the process as much as possible and be ambassadors for your organization. Your investment in their efforts will pay off in the long run.

5. Offer tiered membership structures

Offer a membership rate that is affordable to Gen X and Y like $25 or $35/year. Offer the same benefits to the younger folks as they would receive at a higher level membership. The idea behind membership is repeat customers. Your Gen X and Y to be visiting your organization on a regular basis.  This also means you need to have events and activities that will be attractive to their age group.

 

6. Provide philanthropic resources & trainings

Host a philanthropic training for your up and coming philanthropists to provide them with resources and information to help them enter this new role. Believe it or not, many young people are eager to learn how to become philanthropic. The training can be similar in style to hosting a planned giving luncheon or tea for your older donors. Provide the next generation of philanthropists with resources on philanthropy, such as information on developing a personal giving plan or how to research causes who need help. Your organization could provide a venue for training on multi-generational philanthropy or share practices on creating a personal giving plan. Ask your older donors if they have children or grandchildren who would like to learn more about philanthropy. This will develop lifelong family giving to your organization and a continued investment across multiple generations.

 

A solid understanding of the characteristics and defining moments in the lives of each generation will help you build a more solid relationship with your donors of all ages. While the generational preferences are helpful in building strategies to approach younger donors, they are not the rule. Each individual is unique in his or her own giving philosophy and method.

Engaging Younger Donors Checklist:

ü  Take the time to engage young individuals now as donors. Their gifts may be small, but their lifetime giving has great potential.

ü  Offer different opportunities for the younger generations to engage with your nonprofit through events, volunteering, and membership.

ü  Utilize your current donors to help make peer-to-peer asks.


[1] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[2] United States Census Bureau, 2006-2008 American Community Survey, Population Estimates (July 1, 2008).

[3] Deloitte. Gen Y: Powerhouse of the Global Economy. 2009.

[4] Pew Research Center. Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next. February 2010

[5] AARP. Leading a Multigenerational Workforce. 2011.

[6] Lancaster & Stillman, 2003

[7] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[8] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[9] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[10] United States Census Bureau, 2006-2008 American Community Survey, Population Estimates (July 1, 2008).

[11] Deloitte. Gen Y: Powerhouse of the Global Economy. 2009.

[12] Pew Research Center. Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next. February 2010

[13] Achieve and Johnson Grossnickle Associates (JGA). 2010 Millennial Donor Study. 2010

[14] Pew Research Center. December 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS)

[15] Pew Research Center. Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next. February 2010

[16] AARP. Leading a Multigenerational Workforce. 2011.

[17] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[18] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[19] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[20] Report by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University in a study funded by Campbell & Company. 2008.

Are you needy?

Often we talk about our organization’s services that offer a “hand up” not a “hand out”. Teach a man to fish, right?

So, why do we, as fundraisers, make pleas to our current and prospect donors for money citing how needy we are for their money? Essentially asking for a “hand out.”

“Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities.”

– Napoleon

What if we changed our request by positioning our organization as a wealth of resources for people in the community? And then we asked donors to make an “investment” in our organizations resources and the capabilities of the staff to deliver these resources?

By asking for an investment from a donor, you are stating that your organization is worthy of their funds because you will provide a return on their investment (ROI) by delivering services and resources to the community. An investment also gives a donor an active role: with their donation, they are able to make a difference in the community. So, not only are donors able to invest their money with your organization, they invest themselves.

“You have the great honor of giving people a way to make a difference of heroic proportions. People already want to give. It’s up to us to allow them.”

–       Jim Lord, The Raising of Money

You are also empowering donors to change the world. Their investment in your organization leads to positive results: your organization services being delivered and ultimately positively changing lives.

“Imagine if everyone who wanted to change the world knew they could.”

–       Jim Lord, The Raising of Money

This investment approach, shifts the job of fundraisers from beggars to investment managers. As fundraisers, we are offering a wise investment that will produce benefits. In doing so, we are offering donors an opportunity to give money and get something in return as opposed to asking them to “give away” their money.

So, ask yourself: Is your organization’s stock rising? If so, that means you have valuable resources to offer to the community.

With that premise in mind, present your organization as an asset, not a deficit (i.e. if we don’t raise the annual budget, we will have to close our doors). Distinguish yourself as an investment opportunity.

Shorthand advice: Don’t be needy.

Go Take a Hike!

On Sunday, I went on a 6-mile hike up Iron Mountain with these fun folks:

The hike was a clever fundraiser for an international organization supported strongly by two of my friends: Cindy and Tim Stallo.

Led by Cindy, we all climbed the 3 miles to the top of the mountain, enjoyed the beautiful vistas of San Diego and then scrambled back down the mountain. While it was a nice day in the sun, an opportunity to be active and surrounded by great people – the purpose of the hike was to raise money.

No, we didn’t pick up loose change on the way up the mountain. The hike was the first of a 7 hikes in 7 days fundraiser to benefit kids living in Malawi, Africa. Cindy asked her friends, family, colleagues and friends of friends via Facebook to hike with her on 7 different hikes throughout San Diego over 7 days. Cindy said that, “Tim and I wanted to raise money for Malawi and I wanted to do a physical challenge.” Thus the 7 Hikes in 7 Days was born.

The Stallos have long since had a heart for Malawi and its children.

They have traveled to Malawi, Africa many times over the past 7 years to support and work with two organizations: Youth Care Ministries and RiseMalawi. The goal of these non-profits is to provide children (many of whom are orphans) with basic needs five days a week: a meal, school supplies, tutoring, counseling and education. The after school and summer camps provide these things as well as support for their families, such as building a roof for a family during the rainy season or purchasing shoes for all the children in the family.

While Tim and Cindy had hoped to return to Malawi this summer and bring donations with them, they were unable to do so. But this didn’t stop them from fundraising for their favorite cause. Their goal for the 7 Hikes in 7 days fundraiser is to raise over $7,000 to underwrite the costs of 20 street kids to attend summer and after-school camps in Malawi for an entire year.

 

So far, they have recruited 38 hikers in the first 3 and have raised around $2,400 this month!

The hike was also symbolic. We’ve heard the saying: walk a mile in another man’s shoes. In this case, we were walking miles in little kids’ shoes.  Everyday Malawi children walk approximately 5 miles from their village to school. The concept of a fundraiser hike was a great one for this cause!

Cindy got the word out on Facebook with details about each hike and how people could get involved. The beauty of this fundraiser was that the logistics were pretty easy. Through Facebook, Cindy provided prospect hiker/fundraisers all the details like meet up time and place, trailheads, length/difficulty of hike and who was going. And then all she had to do was show up at the trailhead, collect checks and cash and take the group up the mountain. Thanks to our national park service, we have beautiful and well-maintained trails in San Diego. There were no permits to be obtained, streets to be closed, equipment to be rented rentals, centerpieces to be arranged… just a dirt trail to follow.

Not only did the hikers make a personal donation, they were encouraged to raise funds from their friends. This automatically multiplied the amount of money that Cindy and her husband could raise from just their set of friends. And it worked. I brought my mom on the hike who so kindly and generously made a donation stating: “I like giving directly to people and knowing that the nonprofit won’t sell my name.” Mom donated cash; impersonal as it gets and no one sends her unwanted mail.*

 

Cindy already has plans to expand the hike next year including a Skype session between the hikers and the kids in Malawi right before the hike. Engaging friends outside of San Diego to hike along for 7 days in their own cities.

If you would like to support Cindy and Tim’s efforts to fundraise, please email Cindy at cindystallo at cox.net or make a tax-deductible donation at www.sixthhourministries.org.

*I did explain to my mom on the hike that most nonprofits are not in the habit of selling her name and address to other nonprofits. After all, nonprofits don’t want to lose their donors to other organizations. But there is a big scheme when it comes to direct mails and purchasing lists. She was a bit shocked and appalled that I could purchase a one-time use list of individuals who made a certain amount of money and lived in a wealthy zip code.

What a group of fundraisers… er, hikers!

“I don’t like to ask for money” and other “wa-wa” excuses

I know that most people don’t like asking for money. It is an uncomfortable thing to do. It also makes my job possible so I’m okay with it. Unless, I hear it from a Steering Committee member. I can’t tell you how often I hear: “I don’t like to ask for money.” Which is pretty ironic considering that these same individuals were recruited with a sole purpose: to raise money for the capital campaign. As a director of development, this puts you in a bind. A committee meant to raise money who hosts members who don’t like to ask for money. It’s a quandary.

 

What to do? What to do?

 

The Challenge: Our committee members won’t ask for money.

The (other) Challenge: You have not trained your committee members to ask for money.

The Solution: Set up a one-hour training session with your Steering Committee. Start by discussing the importance of a peer-to-peer ask: If an individual who has already given $1,000,000 to the campaign asks another individual for $1,000,000. It is a “peer-to-peer ask”. It is also much stronger if an “ask” comes from a volunteer leader instead of a staff member. Once the members understand why it is so important for them (yes, each one of them!) to make the solicitations, move onto a step-by-step instruction on how to engage a prospect donor. I often provide a generic script and role play it with a committee member.

Script should include speaking points for:

  • Initial phone call to prospect donor to ask for a meeting and/or invite them to a cultivation reception
  • At the meeting/reception
  • Follow up phone call conversation
  • Solicitation

The Challenge: Our committee members are really and truly not skilled at asking for gifts.

The Solution: Find them another role. There are many steps to making a solicitation from the initial cultivation steps to the actual solicitation. Find a strategic role for each member to play in engaging prospect donors. Perhaps your committee member has many important relationships with key individuals who are prospect donors and socializes with them on a regular basis. Utilize him or her to start talking about the capital campaign improvements and the need for donations. They don’t have to ask, but building the case for campaign verbally is really important. It gets the prospect donor’s mental wheels turning. This same committee member can also be the one to invite the prospect donor to the solicitation meeting and participate, but someone else solicits. I have a client and they use the Executive Director for solicitations because he is a very effective “asker” who is sure to make a solicitation with exact amount before the meeting closes. You may have a committee member who is an eloquent writer and will help you communicate the need of the campaign through handwritten letters to key individuals.

The (other) solution: Or ask them to step off the committee. For detailed instructions on how to respectfully usher a committee or Board member through the exit process, read this.

In full disclosure, the picture is my cutie patootie niece with her “wa-wa” face on.

5 years? I thought this was a 5-month commitment

The Steering Committee (or Capital Campaign Committee) is a group of dedicated volunteers who have all made a stretch gift to the capital campaign and have agreed to lead the fundraising efforts of the campaign. Let’s first discuss the responsibilities of the steering committee in a capital campaign.

 Committee Responsibilities:

  • Be passionate about and actively involved with the organization
  • Make a personal donation or pledge to the campaign
  • Ask others for donations
  • Attend Steering Committee Meetings (monthly)
  • Follow through on work produced at the Committee meeting
  • Be an advocate in the community for the organization and the campaign

The job of the steering committee member is not easy. They have made a commitment to multiple years of making solicitations, regular meetings and attending many cultivation events.

Despite the dedication of the committee, often problems arise with the committee that can hinder your campaign. Over the next couple of weeks, we will discuss these different challenges.

The Challenge: Our committee is not engaged.

The (other) Challenge: You are not engaging your committee members.

The Solution: While every development officer would love if their steering committee members were just out there making successful 6-figure solicitations on their own, it if often not the case. So, how can you engage your committee members in the fundraising process?

  1. Review donor prospect lists together to identify individuals who they know. Note: sometimes the committee member knows the individual too well to actually make the solicitation and it is not a good match for solicitation. And sometimes you need to show them the rational.
  2. Once you have identified 5-10 prospects, develop strategy for approaching the donors and the timing for this to unfold. Also, determine a solicitation amount and a specific area of the campaign that will be of interest to the prospect.
  3. Provide any necessary materials to your committee member to help with the cultivation process (i.e. case for support, pledge card, gift chart, etc.)
  4. Offer to go on the cultivation or solicitation call to provide support to the committee member and help make the call successful.
  5. Follow up with your committee member on their progress. Help them build new strategy when the original plan does not work as anticipated.
  6. Celebrate success!

How do your tweets and status updates impact your job?

Image

With today’s day and age, everyone is online. All the time. We use social media for our personal and professional lives. LinkedIn is all about our professional connections and listing our work experience. And Facebook is for posting photos funny quips, rants, raves and photos of just about anything. Or is it?

If you are looking for a job, know that potential employers will “google” you. Even if your Facebook page is “private”, they can see your profile pic. Consider what your social media says about you in the professional arena.

I personally had a social media “whoa” moment at the APPL conference last week where I was speaking about how to engage the next gen (X & Y) in philanthropy. As I was encouraging the attendees to use social media – Facebook, Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn, etc. – I realized that I needed to take my own advice. I had not tweeted in 51 dayswhoops!

Part of this was due to a crisis of identity. I didn’t know how to distinguish my Facebook status posts from a tweet. Weren’t they basically the same? And to be honest, Twitter seems far more public than Facebook because folks can just start following me. I was quick to “unfollow” and block folks that I didn’t know on Twitter because I didn’t think they needed to know about my personal life or funny photos or observations about my life… when it hit me: my personal life.

Ah… well, that’s the conundrum of social media. Your personal life is public. In fact, we choose to make it public. Very much so.

 Image

So, I decided to make Twitter my professional public image where I can tweet about this blog and other work related observations. I will allow everyone to “follow” me (except for that naked lady – nonprofits are a fully-clothed work place!) and I will work to “follow” more people.

I will still keep my silly Facebook page posts and pictures because I find them highly amusing. Yet, at the same time, as a consultant, I am always interviewing and people are looking at me through the public personal/professional lens online. So, I will need to be conscience on how I appear in the online public eye.

How do you handle your social media on a professional level? Does your boss “follow” you on twitter? Are your co-workers your friends on Facebook?

Meet Valerie Townsend Livesay

 

I want to introduce you to an associate of RCH Consulting, Valerie Townsend Livesay. Ms. Livesay and I met when we were both pursuing our master’s degrees at the University of San Diego (USD) and after logging many late nights and long weekends studying together, we developed a friendship, which has turned into a great business relationship. Valerie has worked with me on developing a fundraising plan (February 2009) and strategic plan (May 2011) for the Chula Vista Nature Center (www.chulavistanaturecenter.org). Recently, she worked with me to develop a fundraising plan for the City Heights Community Development Corporation (www.cityheightscdc.org). She is incredible at working with key stakeholders one-on-one and a brilliant writer and editor. She is also expanding her skills as a facilitator and trainer for Boards and Committees. A lifelong learner, Valerie is in her final semester of coursework in USD’s Ph.D. in Leadership Studies program. Her research interest is in how human development contributes to leader development. I consider myself lucky to have her expertise on board with RCH Consulting.

 

Here’s her bio:

Valerie Townsend Livesay began her career in the nonprofit arena as director of marketing for the American Heart Association (AHA) in San Diego, and later the director of corporate relations for the Western States Affiliate of the AHA. She transitioned to higher education fundraising, heading up the Chancellor’s Associates leadership annual giving program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), focusing on unrestricted leadership annual gifts and the cultivation and stewardship of major donors. Having received her master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management at the University of San Diego (USD), she jumped at the chance to raise money for her alma mater as the Director of USD’s Office of Annual Giving consisting of the university’s direct mail program, telefunding center and, the President’s Club, the university’s $1,500+ donor recognition society.

 

Ms. Livesay is a seasoned fundraising professional with twelve years of nonprofit experience focused in the areas of corporate relations, annual giving, and donor cultivation and recognition program development. She is skilled in creating learning environments that engage all participants as both teachers and learners in both formal classroom and real-world settings. Ms. Livesay is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at USD and serves as the doctoral graduate assistant in the Office of Admissions and Outreach for the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) focusing on the use of social media to engage prospective SOLES graduate students. Her research interest is in the ways in which human development impacts leader development.

 

Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Studies (In Progress), University of San Diego

M.A., Nonprofit Leadership and Management, University of San Diego
B.A., Telecommunications, Indiana University

 

Email: Valerie@reneeherrell.com

A sand dollar

Las week, I found a sand dollar on my run. It wasn’t so much that I found a shell on the beach, it was that I was actually on a run. I haven’t been running lately and if you know me, I love to run. It is…

my quiet time

my time to rock out to ghetto rap (yep, this white girl likes it!)

my time to process situations

my time to just dream

my time to get centered and relaxed.

But, I’ve been working long hours with some fantastic clients (!!) and haven’t had the time to lace up and hit the road.

As I headed out, I cranked up my ipod ready to get into my running groove only to discover that I had my “airplane playlist” (read: John Mayer, Jason Mraz, David Gray, movie sound tracks) on it and not my “running playlist” (read: Beyonce, Jay-Z, Biggie, 2-Pac). That’s what I get for spending more time on planes than logging flight miles than runnning miles. I was bummed because I like music with a beat when I run, but as I started pounding out the miles, I began to relax.  Between the chill music and the scenery of the beach, waves and sky – I felt like I was on a mini-getaway.

I don’t know why I gave up running and let work get in the way. It has always been my outlet and release and afterwards, I feel like a million bucks (endorphins!).  And, I even encourage all of you nonprofit warriors to create a work/life balance for yourselves here. Yet, I failed to follow my own advice.

When I slowed down to a walk as I doubled back on my run, I saw the sand dollar. The message was clear:

Sometimes I am trying to sprint a marathon at work. And I need to take the opportunity to pursue sand dollars over paper dollars.

What is your sand dollar moment?