What Is a Culture of Philanthropy and Why Do We Need One?

Maggie Schold, Director of Development, Bosque School
Giving is good for you. When you freely give of yourself, you feel better. Numerous studies have shown that giving also helps you live a longer, healthier life. The gifts that you share help others and define what is valuable to you. The time you give also makes a difference in your life as well as in the lives of others. Philanthropy is good for everyone.

A culture of philanthropy is one in which the spirit of giving and generosity supports the community and the organization’s mission. It isn’t about fundraising. Having a culture of philanthropy at Bosque School helps everyone achieve more, provides more resources, and builds and strengthens our community.

How can we build a culture of philanthropy at Bosque School?

Ask yourself—how has someone else’s giving helped you? Maybe someone gave you a book that changed your outlook. Or did you receive a donor-funded college scholarship? For Bosque School, a stunning example is the pretty audacious goal of a handful of parents back in 1994: building a new independent school in Albuquerque with a unique mission and vision. Thanks to the founders and the families who gave significant financial gifts to get the campus up and running by purchasing the first 23 acres, we call this beautiful setting our home. Without their vision and generosity, Bosque School would not exist.

When we recognize how others have helped us, individually and as an organization, we can express our gratitude. Gratitude not only lets the people who support us know how much we appreciate that support, it also reminds us that giving is essential to our community. A leading expert on gratitude, Robert Emmons, says that gratitude has two parts. The first is affirming goodness in the world. The second is recognizing the sources of goodness outside ourselves. When we are grateful to others, we spark generosity in ourselves.

Recall a time you were able to make a donation because the impact of that gift mattered to you. The amount of the donation wasn’t what mattered—it was the act of supporting something you cared about. Or perhaps you volunteered for an organization in a way that made you feel that you were really making a difference, really helping to further the mission. When I was in my 20s, I volunteered as an adult literacy tutor for several years. I built a great friendship with my student and helped him improve his reading skills. I also learned how smart he was in navigating his world without being able to read. His creative resilience inspired me. We helped each other. When I think about that experience, I feel great. How do you feel remembering a time that you gave generously?

Would you like to honor the visionaries who made Bosque School a reality and recapture their terrific spirit of generosity? You can do so by becoming a more active member of Bosque’s community. We are a vibrant group of individuals with diverse interests and pursuits. There are so many ways to be meaningfully engaged in Bosque’s community and mission: volunteering for an event or field trip, supporting the Annual Fund, or sharing your stories of giving and inviting others to join you.

When Bosque’s culture is based in generosity and a willingness to help, everyone benefits—we raise more money that helps us build our new gym, admit all qualified students regardless of their financial situation, hire and retain the best teachers in the field, and nurture the talents and interests of every student. Plus, we pass on the joy of giving to future generations.