The Gift of Philanthropy by Kimberly Dye

Kimberly Dye is the Chief Advancement Officer at Gulfshore Playhouse.

During a recent conversation with a long-time Naples philanthropist, she shared something with me that changed how I view my job, my career, my almost three-decade calling in life.  During this unprecedented time, where so many are thinking about how the crisis will affect both their livelihoods and their legacies, I wanted to share the story with you. 

First though, to set the stage, I share yet another tale – one that helps put into focus how some see the work of a development professional, a.k.a. “fund raiser”.  A few months ago transplants from Chicago moved in next door to my home. Always the social gal, I sauntered up to say hello (before modern times required a six-foot separation), shook their hands, petted their dogs and introduced myself.  I quickly started sharing recommendations for the best places to eat and be entertained in the area and I shared that I work for Gulfshore Playhouse. The gentleman said, “Oh! You’re an actress! How fun is that?”  I smiled, shook my head, and replied that I was actually the organization’s Chief Advancement Officer.  He looked puzzled, so I replied further: “I’m the fundraiser.”  At that very moment his whole demeanor shifted, he gathered up his dogs, his wife, his daughter and practically ran back to his front door.  Under my breath I said, “I’m not going to ask you for money…today.” 

This is often the perception of those of us whose job it is to sustain and to advance the future of our nonprofit organizations.  And during a visit with my dear friend, the philanthropist mentioned above, I shared this story. Obviously, having a bit of actress in my nature (that must be why I’m drawn to theatre), I exaggerated the story just a bit for effect.  She laughed and then what she said shifted my perspective forever. 

“My dearest Kim, what you – and so many other development professionals like you – do is so much more than asking people for money.  You spur people like me into action. You give us purpose. You help us feel fulfilled. You let us build a legacy on which to be proud.  You, my dear, are the ones giving us the greatest of gifts.” 

Today, more than ever, this is so very true.  We are surrounded by the givers, by the helpers – those who are philanthropic with their time, treasure and talents.  Those who lend a hand to others in need and those who stand by the sides of myriad nonprofits during their darkest hours (despite their own personal challenges).  The philanthropists of the world are building a legacy that perhaps they never even imagined. They are the ones lifting up organizations, their leaders and their employees.  

I see this daily at Gulfshore Playhouse; the hundreds upon hundreds who are reaching out to ask how they can help.  They are donating back the value of their tickets to shows that won’t come to our stage this season. They are buying their tickets for next year – anticipating six professional shows to entertain them and to make them feel normal again.  And they are making ever-important donations to help The Playhouse be resilient and strong. I’m so proud that together, we are sharing the gift of giving with each other. And for that, I’m eternally grateful. 

And, of course, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention that you, too, can either become a philanthropist today, or enhance your philanthropic giving now by visiting www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org/donate  I promise you won’t feel the urge to gather up your loved ones and run for cover.  (It’s a quick and simple process to give). But do expect big, virtual hugs of gratitude to come your way.  After all, we are all in this together, and Gulfshore Playhouse will rise again.