Can a Community Foundation be too generous?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately. Interestingly, generous isn’t a word you hear often in conversations about philanthropy. Measurable? Sure. Return on investment? Yep. But we shy away from the concept of generosity.

After 14 years in the field, I think I understand why. We want to ensure our donors and the community see our commitment to only funding the most efficient, well researched, and most importantly, effective programs. Our focus on metrics and accountability is crucial to the profession and quality grantmaking.

But once that has been established, why not acknowledge the fact that philanthropy is fundamentally generosity in action?

If plans, proposals, ideas, models, case studies, and data are philanthropy’s oxygen, then generosity is its carbon dioxide. We take all of that critical analysis and synthesize it into an exact dollar amount and funding strategy. What happens next – the grant, scholarship, or donation – is an expression of trust in and respect for the recipient of the funding. That’s a pretty generous thing to do.

As a community foundation, we provide a place for generous people to make arrangements to continue giving money away forever. Every year, we set up more funds and see more people come through our doors with great ideas and plans.

So, no, I don’t believe thoughtful philanthropists can be too generous. As long as we continue to be deliberate as we breathe in, we should be grateful we’ve been gifted with the opportunity to be part of our generous community that only gets stronger when we breathe out.