Historically we have given anonymously in the communities where we live. We have done so because it is a value of ours, because we do not want people to know we have money, because we do not want to make some of our friends uncomfortable, because we feel vulnerable in a world where people with money can be taken advantage of, because we believe that one of the higher forms of giving is to give without being recognized, and because we are private and humble.
In this day and age, it is becoming harder to give anonymously.
You can look up anyone’s 990 or 990-PF on the Internet. You can Google anyone and find out a bit of information. We give the organizations we work with a grant agreement and in it is a confidentiality clause. Try as we might, sometimes they slip up and our name winds up in their annual report or some other document and then out to the Internet and community it goes.
I know it doesn’t help that our family’s name is in the name of the foundation. We could change the name of the foundation, and in fact we are in discussions about that. One of the founders and board members is ambivalent about it. In one sentence he will say, ‘no I don’t care who knows and I like being known as a funder’ and then go ahead and agree to a name change.
I do feel an obligation to take his feelings into consideration. It was his money, after all, that started the foundation. How do I honor both wishes? Is it possible?
As for me, I am ambivalent. It is hard to lead us when I am of mixed feelings. I value giving anonymously, but I do know that the way we are currently operating is not allowing me to make the kind of difference I would like to in the community.
What are your thoughts? How do you handle these issues? Talk to me, please.