Halloween as an Analogy to Philanthropy

Halloween as an Analogy to Philanthropy

Posted on October 24, 2022
As I sit down with my favorite mug filled with warm apple cider, I snuggle into my couch by the window in my favorite black cat sweater. The clouds are gray outside as the raindrops hit my window. I reach for my TV remote to turn on my favorite movie this time of year, The Conjuring, directed by James Wan. It’s finally fall, and Halloween is approaching. The only thing missing here in Florida is a crisp 58-degree wind and orange, red, and yellow leaves falling on the ground.

In my opinion, fall is the best season, and Halloween is the best holiday. The season and the holiday provide the opportunity to connect with oneself creatively. Whether carving a pumpkin, brewing a fall drink, decorating your home, making a costume, or selecting a movie, each is an opportunity to express yourself. When I really think about it, Halloween and fall activities are a lot like working in philanthropy.

Philanthropy is not a simple space; it can actually be quite scary. You need a network of people to access resources, yet it can be terrifying to talk to new people. At The Patterson Foundation, we immerse ourselves in community engagement by convening community members, listening to their needs, facilitating conversations, and we never know what the response will be. Just like you can’t participate in trick-or-treating from the safety of your couch, you can’t do philanthropy with excellence by staying in the office and turning inward.

One of the most joyful components of the fall season is decorating the home with fall and Halloween decor, at least it is for me. Since this is my first autumn in Florida, I have a brand new space to work with. Exploring the layout of my new apartment allowed me to find new ways to put up my decorations. This creativity side of the brain is the same creativity that sparks when philanthropy has a chance to evolve and do something new. Finding the right path forward and shaking things up is one of the best parts of the job.

Even if you don’t share my love for fall and Halloween, I’m certain that at some point in your life, you have carved a pumpkin. You picked one out of the pumpkin patch or up at a store, but you started out with a plain round orange pumpkin. Then you cut a hole in the top, scooped out all the seeds and goop, and decided what you would carve. Maybe you carved a face. Maybe it was a happy face, a silly face, or a scary face. Maybe you carved a cat, a skeleton, or even a dinosaur. Just like philanthropy, the possibilities are endless. Now I hope at least once you carefully separated your pumpkin seeds from the guts and painstakingly washed them, dried each individual seed, spiced them up, and baked them. That level of attention to detail is also present in the level of excellence evident in every aspect of TPF. Because boy, it is worth it when the oven timer dings and you open the door to smell warm roasted salty seeds filling the air, and you get that nice crisp crunch between your teeth. Just like it is so worth it when something we plan out detail by detail, like the SCGLR Pop-Up Neighbor Through Laundry, fills both volunteers and beneficiaries with so much joy.

If you’re still not convinced that Halloween components are woven throughout philanthropy, take Halloween movies. Whether the movie is super scary like The Conjuring or more spooky than scary like Hocus Pocus, Halloween movies are ominous. They transport you to a place where your adrenaline rushes, and you know the main character should just take a risk and run out the front door instead of up the stairs. Philanthropy should not operate in the safe category. We’re supposed to take risks as we realize change happens, just like seasons. We cannot do the same programs, initiatives, and strategies year after year. We must evolve with our community.

While I do miss my Indiana fall, I am thoroughly enjoying being surprised by what Florida fall has to offer. Let this serve as a reminder of what’s possible when we don’t limit ourselves to the comfort of sameness. This Halloween, I hope you open yourself up to the not-so-scary realm of limitless possibilities.

Comments (1)

  • Ploss Patricia

    Ploss Patricia

    24 October 2022 at 11:32 | #

    Love your analogy of Philanthropy and our most favorite time of year!
    Exploring new spaces and seeing how you can reach out is the best way to grow!???⚜️


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