In reading the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s article on last year’s Record Giving Breaking, I came across this nugget:

Officials at the California Community Foundation, in Los Angeles, were shocked when they received approximately $200-million from the estate of Mary Joan Palevsky (No. 7), whose wealth grew from investments she made after receiving a $40-million divorce settlement in 1968 from her husband, Max Palevsky, the founder of Scientific Data Systems, an early computer company that was sold to Xerox in 1969. Ms. Palevsky’s single previous donation to the foundation had been $2,200 in 1997 to buy textbooks.

“We had no idea we were in her will,” says Antonia Hernández, the foundation’s president, who heard about the gift after attending Mass on Good Friday. “I was literally screaming” outside the church, she says. “People looked at me like I was crazy.”

This story reminded me once again how important it is for us to keep on doing the things we do best. (And maybe the importance to going to Mass. 😉 )

“What you sow, so shall you reap” (Galatians 6:7) is a law acknowledged even by those that don’t believe a word of the Bible. A mentor once taught me a nuance on the idea of sowing and reaping that’s helped me for years.

What my mentor told me was that my job was to keep sowing seed and keep tending to the seed in whatever field I find myself in. I was responsible for watering, fertilizing, and weeding that field. I can’t control the harvest, but I can control the cultivation. Here’s the nuance: He assured me the harvest will come, but there’s nothing that says the harvest has to come from the field I’m working it. It may come from a totally different field than the one I’m tending.

I’d never thought of it that way. Imagine if you were a farmer and faithfully tending one part of your property. It’s crazy to think of the field that’s lying fallow to be the one that your harvest comes from. But it happens that way in life, doesn’t it?

So if you’re working with donors and living out your mission, you will reap the good you sow. Don’t give up. The writer of Galatians continues:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9).

The harvest will come; it just may come from an entirely different source than you expect.

Does this mean we’re all going to get random $200 million gifts? No. But hopefully this will inspire us to keep doing what we’re doing!

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