As leaders share their vision in order to inspire support for their important work, it is critical not only to share the philanthropic opportunity from a donor’s perspective, but also to share why the leaders themselves are enthusiastic about this work. Sharing their reasons for being invested in social change can have a contagious effect.

Consider how this passionate leader describes where his desire to help those less privileged than he originated:

I was a student athlete, and I was a strict student. My mother was very concerned about my educational upbringing, so I ended up going to a private high school. That really did define who I am right now. One of our mottos is being a man for others, and it’s something that I take and hold very dearly.

The thing that hit home for me most was part of our service project that we had to do. Every year you have a different service project and it was part of our curriculum. I went to go serve at a soup kitchen. And poverty wasn’t something that I was just oblivious to, but typically it was defined by males. Older males who you would see perhaps at a bus stop or over a heating vent.

The difference here when I was at the soup kitchen is that there was a young woman who came in with young children. And there was not just one family, but then it became multiple families. And I remember thinking that wasn’t typical within my experience and so I was trying to digest it. Don’t know what I’m feeling. But I was just really bothered. Because I’m like, these are kids.

Seeing children growing up in poverty made a distinctive impact on him in a very personal way. He realized, at a young age, that some people have fewer privileges through no fault of their own. He decided to devote his life to helping these underprivileged individuals succeed in college, a mission that has improved outcomes for hundreds of students.

When you and your academic leaders meet with donors, do you share your own reasons for being passionate about this work? Doing so can encourage donors to share their own experiences, and can also set off a chain reaction of caring about the important work.

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