Devout Thanksgiving for my Friends

Devout thanksgiving for my friends


Julie Buck


“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”


This quotation is from Ralph Waldo Emerson and truly expresses the feelings of the Community Foundation of Grundy County this holiday season.


We are so excited and humbled that last week’s “Introduction to Philanthropy” conference was a huge success!  We were surrounded by old friends, plus we made many new friends – kindred spirits who share the same passions, frustrations, and hope for our community.


Most who walked into the conference last week didn’t know why they were there and, frankly, we weren’t too sure ourselves.  But we did have an inkling that there are many individuals in Grundy County who yearn in their heart to do something charitable or civic-minded – they just aren’t sure what that something is nor how to go about it.


Our speakers last week were able to help us articulate it.  Grundy County is very charitable because our Christian heritage has taught us to take care of our neighbors in need.  We know this is true because we collectively respond when we hear the call.


But last week’s conference went a few steps further.  Guest speaker Tracy Gary led two discussions around the “why” of philanthropy.  Tracy wants all of us to look closely at our own lives, beliefs, and passions to determine how we each might make an impact in our community using our time, talent, and charitable gifts.


Rich Klopp of the Lake Institute for Faith and Giving at the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University was another guest speaker.  Rich shared some startling statistics about the low number of American who financially support their church.


However, I think we can all agree with Rich’s observation that it isn’t fun or inspiring to give to our church just to keep the lights on and the roof from leaking.  People of faith have so much more in their hearts that they want to support with their money and this is the point that American churches have not fully understood and embraced.


Rich believes that churches are missing a huge opportunity.  If churches will engage their congregations in dialogue about community issues, the parishioners will respond, rally, and form closer bonds in order to solve those community issues.  And – surprise! – the money to keep the lights on and the roof repaired will be a welcome byproduct!


I’m not telling Tracy and Rich’s stories well here – it’s always tough to do in print.  But we’ve already heard from many of you in attendance last week that at least one thing touched you and that you are inspired to do more, even if it’s as simple as read a book.


So now that’s it’s officially the holiday shopping season, please allow me to make some Christmas gift idea suggestions!


Tracy Gary’s book is “Inspired Philanthropy.”  It’s an easy read and comes with a CD of resources.  Grab your pencil as you sit down with this book – each chapter has a worksheet to help you capture your thoughts, feelings, and ideas.  You can find this book in bookstores and online – or call the Foundation next week as we’re ordering a large supply to keep in stock at the office.


A couple of other books that we’ve found are “A Generous Life” by W. James Samford, Jr., and “The Ultimate Gift” by Jim Stovall.  This book is also a movie plus there’s a sequel and movement.  You can read more at


For those of you interested in how to engage your church more, Rich suggests “Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money” by Christian Smith, Michael O. Emerson, and Patricia Snell.  I haven’t read it yet but I’m curious!


I know there are many, many more inspirational books, websites, and movies out there.  Over the weekend we saw “The Blind Side” – what a great message!  And we encourage you to check out Tracy’s website for a very comprehensive list of resources:


So, what’s next?  Our conference co-hosts, the United Way of Grundy County and the Morris Hospital Foundation, will meet with us soon to lay out a plan of action for continuing the dialogue.  We had a wide variety of audience last week, including donors, financial advisors, churches, and non-profit board and staff.  While that was great for networking, it was obvious that future topics need to be designed for specific audience types.


In the meantime, I encourage you to read a book, watch a movie, surf a website, or talk to someone who was at the conference last week – it truly was inspirational.  As far as the holidays go, any of the books we listed will make great gifts.  Or read a different one and tell me what you think!


And don’t forget our annual suggestion to give money to family, especially kids, to give away to charity.  It’s amazing what they believe to be important!


Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas from all of us at the Community Foundation of Grundy County!