Recently I participated in a “thank a thon”, where I called a list of donors to thank them for their gifts of time and money during the past year. This is a common tradition among nonprofit organizations. I was provided a template script for live calls and for voicemail messages. Both scripts seemed to hit the right notes of gratitude but for some reason I had difficulty with them. I knew I just needed to lend my own words to the basics of the script but it felt forced. I was better by the last call, but I can’t say I felt proud of any of the calls I made.
Having a little time off for the holidays I found myself reflecting again on my discomfort with those calls. In an attempt to release my mind from the recursive discomfort, I considered what I would have said if I’d taken the time to think through my own version of those scripts. I don’t have a story about how affordable housing made a difference in my life. I was briefly a renter as a young adult, but otherwise was raised in homes my parents owned, and I’ve owned four of my own. I have been literally sheltered by privilege.
I am truly grateful to participate in the building of a healthy society. That’s how I think of my work. Every effort matters, every effort moves us closer to completing the next home. Big dollar donors are participating in the effort, folks who volunteer their time and labor with us are participating in the effort, even the person who donates their old screwdriver to one of our retail stores is participating in the effort. I am grateful for all of them.
Our donors fund community building. When donors support efforts to create affordable housing, they are actively backing communities that foster stability, well-being, and opportunities for all. Healthy communities are foundational for healthy societies. This is work to be proud of.
Our donors fund generational impact. Safe and affordable housing is directly correlated with social benefits that are almost too many to number. Reduced trauma over housing insecurity, reduced exposure to environmental hazards, academic performance improves, graduation rates rise, greater resilience to disasters, reduced homelessness, and on and on. It really is the basic stuff that shows how a civil society cares for its citizens.
Our donors fund generational wealth building. The homes we build are permanently affordable, meaning each time the home is sold the price will always be affordable to an average income buyer. And each owner benefits from home equity and market growth when they sell. These opportunities can reverberate through generations of a family. Donor support helps make that possible.
I know it’s unlikely that any of the folks on my call list will read this post, but it’s a reminder to me at least that as difficult and frustrating as the work can get, I am forever grateful to be doing it.