Joined in Giving is a small non-profit I helped start a few years back. It is centered around the concept that people like to eat and socialize, and when they have a meeting (which most people hate) they like to go away from the meeting having accomplished something. So we meet once a month to eat and socialize. After dinner, we have a meeting where two members present a non-profit in our community and we choose one to whom we give money. We have, up to this point, given over $25,000 dollars away. We are a small group but when we join our resources together we can give more money. We also give more intelligently as we learn from our study and discussion of various non-profits in our community.
It is a simple concept. Yet somehow we want it to be more complex. Humans often feel as though something is not important if we can understand it. So we have had great discussions about how it is too much of a contest between the two presenters and how else can we do it. We have had several discussions about this. Amazingly people who serve on other boards or organizations would never question the fairness of their methodology. I guess those organizations are complex enough. We want Joined In Givine to be the perfect one. Another time a member said how do we ‘really’ know what these agencies are doing? The presenter, who happened to be an award-winning investigative reporter, said “Well their website was wonderful.” The other member then said, “Well anyone can have a good website.” The Presenter said I also interviewed the director. He scoffed at this too, even after I reminded him that she does investigative reporting for a living. This was not the best case scenario for his argument. Finally, he announced he was leaving JIG, giving the impression somehow we did not measure up to his standard. I guess we were not complex enough. After our first two years we had our first tie vote. We had no rules for this. I laughed at the situation of why we had never considered this possibility. People seemed perplexed over what we should do. There proceeded a long discussion over what was fair and what should we do. Many thoughtful and complex ideas were discussed. I thought it was 1787 at Independence Hall by the serious tenure with which we all were endowed. In the end we divided the money between the two groups. We have not had a tie since.
As for myself I keep trying to make us a little bit more complex with new programs but the group is not that interested in expanding. We have an “invite a friend” event twice a year. Someone once discussed having these “invite a friend” meetings\dinners in some big locale and invite everyone. It sounds good on paper but did not make sense in the particulars. So we keep meeting and keep giving; it’s quite simple. Sometimes people have ‘better’ options and do not make a meeting, and we are barely able to have good cash flow. We never have over $2,000 in the bank at one time. Our bank account is quite simple. The board meets twice a year and we do not discuss a lot but we enjoy our time together.
And this is the funny thing we sometimes forget because it is a simple thing: how what we do is a good thing. We forget how we enjoy the meals together; how it is fun to leave feeling we made a contribution to our community at large. We forget how it feels so good to present the check to a non-profit and say we have noticed the good thing you are doing and this is a small token of our appreciation. Oftentimes the non-profit did not even know they were under consideration. All of this is so simple. To give and to create community is simple; we only need to quit making it so complex.