Power of Philanthropy

Giving Changes the Giver

Picture of Joe Bellinger with two children

As many people do this time of year, I glance through an abundance of charitable requests that come in the mail. It’s not, first and foremost, the quality of the direct mail piece that grabs my attention, but the quality of the relationship I have with the organization.

As a child, youth theater was my home away from home. Initially, I contributed to youth theater based on a desire to stay connected with the vibrant culture that meant so much to me. Joyous memories spent at the theater motivated me to give.

For more than 20 years, I have loved supporting local theater as a donor and volunteer. I’ve never felt I should give, because: “It’s that time of year.” When the direct mail piece arrives, it isn’t an obligation; it’s an honor.

It’s helpful, as a professional fundraising consultant, to be reminded of this from a donor’s perspective. Relationships, connections and memories are what matter most. How interesting it would be to ask donors what led them to give to a particular organization. What amazing stories might be heard, emotions expressed and feelings uncovered.

My motivations for giving have become more profound over the decades. My own nostalgia has evolved into a heartfelt commitment to the well-being and development of the next generation.

Now, watching my own children enthusiastically participate in youth theater, giving has taken on even greater meaning. Our investment goes beyond financial support; it is a legacy, a contribution to the continuity of an organization that instills confidence, creativity and camaraderie.

Being a donor isn’t just about the gifts we give. It is about the journey and the change we experience along the way. Giving has unleashed my own power of philanthropy. I now have a growing fulfillment in knowing my contributions will impact future generations of children who, like me, may find a home in the transformative world of youth theater. I started giving to change things. But, ultimately, giving changed me.

Joe Bellinger

Senior Vice President

Kansas City


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