Treehouse Shakers

Treehouse Shakers
Hatched, BAM Fisher, Hillman Studio

Monday, July 2, 2012

Generosity: The Daily Act

This June, Treehouse Shakers was fortunate to have Kathy Le May of Raising Change lead a dynamic workshop in how to make the big ask in fundraising. We invited colleagues and donors to join us, as she poignantly led us in a three hour workshop on how to ask for larger gifts and become better fundraisers. As those of us in the non-profit world know, we have to constantly ask for donations in order to keep our organizations afloat. Kathy's workshop was everything I had hoped for and so much more. Her story on the act of generosity is so powerful, it brings home the belief that generosity is not only monetary, but a way of being. Generosity is how we volunteer, give towards our neighbors, our communities. Generosity is what keeps our country and world glued together.
Our very generous board president, Geri Pell introduced me to Kathy last year at a networking event. I was incredibly moved by Kathy's personal story, and her philosophy on donor giving. I was overjoyed when Geri secured Kathy to donate her services to our organization. Kathy is a woman of inspiring character, helping wherever she can.

Kathy Le May, CEO of Raising Change
After reading Kathy's book, The Generous Plan, I too began to ponder my own philosophy on giving. I often look at the way I was raised, and what philanthropy meant growing up. As a child raised in a small town in Wyoming, I didn't know what this word meant, but I often witnessed acts of generous kindness. I grew up next to one of the most generous families in our town. They had seven children, and yet every week the mother babysat children to help out neighbors who worked (this was my case). I spent a good portion of my childhood in that home, where generosity was a daily act. If someone needed something this was the family to call. The mother was always checking in on elderly neighbors, people who were out of work, volunteering, giving to their church. She generously gave to her children; patiently answering questions, playing, teaching. The father was a leader in our community. He was always charitable. Being generous was their family's way of life.

As for my own family, there are examples; not in the way that I saw my parents giving to causes per say, but in the way of their character. My father taught me to be kind to all people. I always felt that it didn't matter who someone was, how much money they had or didn't have, it was never our place to judge. I remember standing in the grocery store line, with barely enough to pay for our own items, when a man asked him for money. My dad without hesitation asked him what he needed and bought his groceries. I'll never forget how proud I was of my father as we walked out of the store. Over the years, I saw him repeat this act of giving over and over again.

As an adult, I have known unlimited generosity. The many, many people who have supported Treehouse Shakers over the past fifteen years, have been unbelievably generous. From our hard-working board, to our donors who have given and supported us, to our company members who have tirelessly worked for our company, to the audience members who return season after season, it has been through great generosity. We have had wonderful people support us, who have allowed us to grow, and helped us continue to make the work that we love. They have taught me firsthand how to live more generously. 

BKS Students post-show Hatched with cast members Amber Ford & Josh Tag.
Every year Treehouse gives away hundreds of low-income tickets to our performances.

Kathy's workshop not only motivated me to make a better ask, but it once again reminded me how fortunate Treehouse Shakers has been. I am taking stock in the giving spirit that allows us to make the work we do, and continue to reach underserved communities. I am working harder to live in generosity, making it part of my own daily practice.

About Kathy Le May:
Kathy LeMay is the founder, president, and CEO of Raising Change, which helps organizations raise capital to advance social change agendas and individuals create Generosity Plans to help change the world. LeMay, who began her global activism in war-torn Yugoslavia where she worked with women survivors of the siege and rape-genocide camps, has been a social change fundraiser for 15 years, raising more than $150 million dollars in the fields of women’s human rights, hunger and poverty relief, and movement-building. In addition she has directed an additional $100 million in philanthropic dollars to organizations working to make a difference. LeMay serves as an adviser and consultant to Fortune 100 companies, universities, international NGOs, and the United Nations. She is a sought-after speaker on strategies for social justice and empowering women to come into their voice. In the year 2000 LeMay was nominated for a Reebok Human Rights Award for her 15 years of service as a human rights activist. She was just named one of Business West Magazine’s “40 Under 40” and, in January 2010, she released her first book, The Generosity Plan, published by Simon & Schuster/Atria and Beyond Words. Kathy has appeared on numerous television and radio shows including Oxygen TV and The Oprah Show. She is a contributing columnist to World Pulse Magazine, where she also serves as the Board Chair.

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