Point of view is EVERYTHING

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Summer in January works for me!

My recent trip to Australia was more than a blast of summer fun, though. While experiencing life on the other side of the globe, I was reminded how much our experiences, ideas and perceptions are informed by orientation

Here’s what I noticed in Sydney. As Australia experiences a peaking wave of Asian interest, nearly 30% of the students enrolled in many universities are from Asia and the Indian subcontinent.  So, increasingly, like the U.S., Australia is a multicultural society.  Many businesses are transnational. Families become blended, and philanthropy, too, is a rapidly diversifying sector. What’s different?  How gifts from global givers are perceived.

In conversations with Australians in the fundraising world, I found a keen concern that international donors might assume some quid pro quo. In other words, non-profits and fundraisers want to communicate clearly that while accepting a gift is a transaction, it should not be perceived as transactional. My experience tells me that influence and imposition are rarely the aims of any gift. It happens, but, a major gift is almost always an expression of gratitude, or hope. Finding opportunities or innovation in Australia that didn’t exist at home, these international givers are celebrating their good fortune, their faith in the future and cultural, educational and scientific advances.  Concerns that gifts will be seen as directives point up Australia’s nascent culture of philanthropy. To be sure, for decades, several families and high net worth individuals have generously supported non-profit arts and human services in Australia. Their example is contributing to a growing local culture and value that is just beginning to expand meaningfully.  As that homegrown culture expands its roots and reach, gifts from all givers will be equally welcome.

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