The Power of Giving

August 25, 2016 by
Kelly Smith

I had a very rewarding and challenging fundraising position when I was with a large academic medical center. We had a rich history spanning well over 100 years, including founders who were some of the country’s most storied industrialists. Even many of our present day benefactors were well-to-do. The institution was known for being rich so when I met with donors in our pipeline to encourage additional giving, I was often met with their self-deduced logic of, “They don’t need my money.”

For both large organizations and small, a case must be crafted and communicated for all levels of giving. Donors want, and deserve, to know that their gifts matter. Often presenting a case includes sharing stories of others who have given at the same level.

The organization I worked for was large on the largest of scales. Driving through it was challenging, deciphering organizational charts was tedious and communication was sometimes slow. There was beauty and opportunity in the chaos, however. Like a tree with many limbs, there were initiatives of all sizes seeking funding. Donors had many funding areas to choose from, and even the smallest of gifts could make a big impact.

Consider the story of a former cancer center patient interested in donating wigs she used during her days of chemotherapy. She did not feel it was much of a gift, but she wanted to give back in some way to those who cared for her. Later, a spouse of another patient saw the wigs and realized that hair replacement options were critical to the emotional health of cancer patients. He not only multiplied the collection many times over, but he was moved enough to give the gift of salon space for patients. One small seed gift that benefitted a few ultimately led to a space and service that touched so many. This is the power of giving.


Kelly Smith

Kelly comes to Lighthouse Counsel from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she held a number of development positions including assistant director of development, stewardship manager and annual giving manager. Prior to her work with the medical center, Kelly was a client services analyst and human resources training coordinator at The Affinion Group and an account representative at The Berry Co. Kelly was formerly president of the Nashville chapter of the UGA Alumni Association, a Chapter of the Year during her tenure. She also was a UGA Alumni Association board member.