lawandorderLast month I was watching Law and Order with my teenage son. One of the characters had committed a relatively minor infraction and was sentenced to Home Detention for 3 months, wearing an ankle monitor. We got into a discussion about ankle monitors and KJ asked me ‘if the person cut the ankle monitor off, would that sound the alarm? ‘ If not, he said, they could just cut it off and leave the house without getting into trouble.

Those of you who know my son will not be surprised by such a question. Since he was 2, he has had the uncanny knack for asking me questions about which I do not know the answer. For example, when he was 4 and I was trying to teach him the concept of “opposites,” he asked me ‘what is the opposite of pizza?” It used to bother me to have to say “I don’t know,” but as I have gotten older and more self-aware I realize that there is plenty that I don’t know.

I told KJ that I assume that the ankle bracelet would sound the alarm if it were cut off, but since I have never had to wear one I am not positive about it. I do not know how they work.

Understanding how things work can be very helpful. It gives us insight, and allows for more creativity and innovation as we look for ways to improve and do business better. These days there is a big push to develop ‘cultures of philanthropy’ at nonprofit organizations. A culture of philanthropy, in short, is an organizational culture that embraces the importance of philanthropy. Such an organization will have its personnel fully engaged with the cause and serving as ambassadors, including the board, staff, volunteers and donors. A culture of philanthropy will incorporate giving of one’s time, talent and treasures to help accomplish the mission, and will incorporate systems, communications, values and practices that foster progress toward the organization’s goals.

It is easier to accomplish such a culture when people understand how things work. One mystery, in a lot of small organizations, surrounds the Development Department. People need to understand how it works. When a culture of philanthropy exists, people do not see the Development Department as “the people who raise the money.” In the Development Department we may lead the fund raising function, but it takes everyone working in concert together to maximize revenue for the mission. We need to remove the veil of mystery and take opportunities to share what we do in a way that people can understand. This will help develop that culture of philanthropy in our organizations and position us to raise more money.

Also, if you know the answer to the question about ankle monitors, go ahead and post below. I promise I won’t ask how you found out.

Have a great week,


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