Insights That Foster Planned Gifts

Insights That Foster Planned Gifts

Article posted in Practice on 14 December 1999| comments
audience: National Publication | last updated: 18 May 2011


What makes philanthropists tick? In this edition of Gift Planner's Digest, University of Kentucky's Dan L. Hendricks reviews the cognitive processes that foster specific and innumerable acts of charity in his article, "Insights that Foster Planned Gifts."

By: Dan L. Hendricks

The study of philanthropy must take a new approach if it is to be true to the remarkable fact of charitable giving in America. To paraphrase an old poetic perspective on the modern world, the study of charitable giving has, of late, followed too much the devices and desires of mass marketing models. These models describe, catalogue, and segment patterns of human behavior. They predict that certain people who live in this or that zip code will tend to buy particular kinds of consumer products and services. They register purchasing trends and relate them to economically based lifestyles.

In recent years such mass marketing technologies have been adopted by fundraisers and employed with considerable success. I can not deny their obvious practicality and effectiveness. But upon closer scrutiny one discovers that these technologies leave important elements of philanthropic behavior unexplained. Indeed, they may skillfully mark when and where giving occurs, but they do not explain the why and wherefore of the mind of the giver. The market models chart the objective facts of philanthropy but they do not discern its subjective roots in the mind of the giver.

Thus, the purpose of this article is to examine in a fresh and new way the deeply personal mind of philanthropy. Let us assume that philanthropic intelligence, or the subjective and personal aspects of the giver, is as worthy of exploration as the varied objects of giving. This article will identify, define, analyze, and catalogue the cognitive processes that foster specific and innumerable acts of charity.

If market models give us economic stratigraphy and consumer segmentation laid out on the street grids of city maps, then insight philanthropy builds a cognitive picture of the donor detailed in terms of the dynamic matrix of the human mind. In more prosaic terms, I have undertaken to chart the origin, evolution, development, and flowering of experiences, thinkings, understandings, reasonings, insights, judgments, values, and decisions that cause people to give. Obviously, this is no small task.

Insight philanthropy drives the study of charity back into the vast recesses of the mind where human generosity first takes shape. The origin of generosity begins in the mind as insight. At first these insights are simple and embryonic. In the rapid-fire chambers of our mind these insights reproduce, multiply, collide, connect, and cluster. These clusters of insights gather to form ideas and they foster understanding. In turn, our understanding transposes itself into higher viewpoints of meanings and reasonings, all linked by subtle, even indescribably complex perspectives.

Some of the earliest insights involve our relationships with parents and family. As we grow up, insight embraces an ever broadening circle of social connections, including friends, acquaintances, social roles, and public personas. Early on we learn the many and varied obligations that attend our social life. We come to sympathize and to share, to play our roles, and to acknowledge the roles that others perform in the rich mix of society. We eventually develop a sense of obligation to others and acquire a capacity to share ourselves, bear our own and the burdens of others, and perhaps even uplift the condition of all humankind through acts of charity and philanthropy.

But how does one become a giver in the broadest sense of the word? And what is the anatomy of the philanthropic mind? How do insights form in the mind and which particular ones foster acts of generosity? What is the relationship between the personal subject of philanthropy and its many social expressions? These are the questions we shall explore.

A New Method

We call our new approach "cognitive" or "insight philanthropy." It assumes the mother lode of giving is the human mind. In our minds' insights, understandings, and judgments lay a dynamic structural foundation for acts of sharing and generosity. These cognitive elements occur and develop in constantly changing dialogue with our social, economic, and political circumstances. They reflect our placement and role in the various cultures and communities we inhabit.

Therefore, in the broadest sense, philanthropy involves an incredibly complex interaction of subject and object. The subject consists of the individual his/her personal attitudes, knowledge, loyalties, commitments, and desires. But this personal subject is inextricably linked and interwoven with a vast objective public, which is as enormous as human civilization itself. The subject occupies the intimate circle of family, the competitive arena of the workplace, the sacred space of religious groups, and the casual affiliations of civic associations. His participation broadens even farther into regional, national, and even global communities.

Here in the numerous public sectors of our life, human need calls forth our impulses to share, bear our mutual burdens, and uplift the plight of all living things. We answer this need with a willingness to serve. We respond to suffering with an open heart and a helping hand. We ennoble the human condition by sharing expressions of joy, beauty, and play. We enlarge the scope and opportunity of the future by investing assets of hope in the present.

To imagine the sheer scope and variety of generous acts is to touch one of the true mysteries of our common existence as human beings. Such a mystery could never be reduced to either its objective manifestations or its subjective inspirations. The former trivializes the rich interior abundances of the human spirit from which come all concrete acts of charity. The latter would impoverish philanthropy by restricting it to good intentions, whether or not they ever bear charitable fruit.

The problem with the modern study of philanthropy does not consist, however, in an over analysis of the subjective elements of the generosity. Rather, it seems to me, the problem has to do with a too uncritical reliance upon the methods of marketing that give us demographics and not depth dimensions. We have become astute recorders of the socio-economic circumstances of the philanthropist. We know where the gifts are to be found and from whom they might be solicited. We knock on the heavy doors of spacious homes in affluent neighbors where the movers and shakers live. We assemble profiles of their consumer habits, study their balance sheets, and note subtle shifts in their lifestyles. This is all very well and good.

These marks of the philanthropists are not conclusive, however. They are like red push pins on a city map. They tell us where to go, but seldom explain what we've found, once we get there. The mystery meets us at the door and almost never turns out to be whom we expect. This is so because philanthropy is as idiosyncratic as people are unique. Giving is the fruit that pours from the immense cornucopia of human minds and from the vast diversity of human personality. The mind is the storehouse of generosity and from its many caches come gifts wrapped in the unique values, desires, commitments, and insights of individuals. The gift is a coded emblem of the stirrings of the mind and the habits of the heart.

If we are truly to understand philanthropy, then, our inquiry must move beyond the important but inconclusive work of demographics and market analysis. Philanthropic footprints go on and on in the sand. Until we meet the philanthropist, however, they are interesting but not altogether revealing. Therefore, if we are to grasp the mystery of philanthropy, we must know and understand the intriguing creature that leaves such peculiar tracks.

Perhaps this article will achieve its objective by enabling the reader to understand the philanthropist in a new and refreshing manner. Very simply we intend to open the mind of philanthropist and probe the unique philanthropic intelligence that gives meaningful shape to acts of generosity. By so doing new light can be shed upon the vast subjective elements of human charity. How and with what tools might such a daunting task be undertaken?

The Mind OF Philanthropy

We begin with two rather simple assertions: philanthropy is a matter of the mind and as such displays its own unique intelligent structures. The act of giving then is comparable to that portion of an iceberg that is visible. To a careful and discerning observer the iceberg is more than what we see. Much more might be known about it if we take the time to measure its real length and width and depth.

To understand philanthropy we shall undertake to explore and examine its cognitive depths and breadths and heights. We shall ask the simple but probing question: What is the philanthropist knowing when he/she is giving? More accurately we will ask: What has the contributor known that has led them to the moment of generosity?

As we have said, a particular kind of intelligence will unfold before our questioning. It will display its own unique set of interests. It will proceed in terms of its own cluster of insights. It will demonstrate a discernible unity and follow a recurring structure of mental operations. In the final analysis, philanthropy will invariably reach for higher viewpoints and, because of these higher viewpoints, it will decide to give.

These processes constitute the amazing mind of philanthropy and we hope to show that this philanthropic mind, however it chooses to give, is an intelligent mind indeed. But let us press now to the elementary matter before us: What is the mind of philanthropy and how does it work?

The dynamic building block of all human thinking is insight. Insight is so basic to intelligence and learning that we seldom think very much about it. Yet, were we not capable of coming to insights, thinking, intelligence, learning, and vast ranges of competencies would be impossible.

But what is insight? Bernard Lonergan in his masterwork entitled Insight, describes its characteristics:

1. insight comes as a release to the tension of inquiry;
2. comes suddenly and unexpectantly;
3. pivots between the concrete and the abstract ;
4. is a function not of outer circumstances but inner conditions and;
5. passes into the habitual texture of our mind. (p. 4)

The desire to know drives all human thinking. It creates an insatiable tension in the mind that finds release and satisfaction when insight accomplishes its multitude of mental breakthroughs. Insight comes at the end of the tense and probing aspirations of the mind to know. "I got it," we say. "I see. Oh, yes!" The experience brings its own reward. We describe how the fog has lifted. We giggle with glee. We survey the terrain that has so puzzled us with its complexities and mystery, and we see it for the first time. From the tottering intellectual breakthroughs of a curious child to the momentous discoveries of a renowned scientist, insight rips the veil of ignorance and unknowing, rewarding the seeker with delightful knowledge. If it were nothing more, insight would be a mental rush.

But as we all know, insight is so much more. I have suggested its second characteristic already. Insight comes quickly and unexpectantly. To the inquiring mind intent upon understanding something, the mental work leading up to the insight may seem interminable. However, when the insight occurs, it comes upon the mind with sudden, explosive force. For example, we speak of a flash of insight and our description carries the fact and the force of the matter.

Lonergan notes a third characteristic of insight. It takes shape from within the mind rather than forming in terms of outer circumstances. Insight is at the beck and call of the thinker's inner gaze and is always the work of a particular person's desire to know. A classroom of eager pupils may strain to comprehend an algebra equation. But in order for the class to grasp the problem, each student must discern its mathematical issues in his/her own way. The teacher can explain the principles and perhaps the first student's hand may rise in recognition. However, every budding mathematician must see for himself or herself.

A fourth characteristic of insight is this: it pivots between the concrete and the abstract. The specific case and the general rule, the concrete and the universal, are the two poles in whose field of force insight bounces back and forth. Our mind, which is ever ready to grasp a particular fact about an individual case, will invariably launch a broader search for evidence that the particular instance before it somehow bears universal significance. Insight seeks to uncover abstract principles in the minute and concrete terrain of specificity. It displays a compulsive and ambivalent elasticity as it bounces between the one and the many and the many and the one.

A fifth characteristic of insight is that it "passes into the habitual texture of one's mind." When once we have come to an insight about a matter, our mind stores the insight as a permanent asset of our intelligence and skill. When, as a child, we first balance on and begin to ride a two wheel bicycle, the feat is accomplished once and for all. We pass beyond a singular threshold and acquire the basic skill of riding while balancing. Unless we happen to suffer some disabling injury to our brain, the skill needed to climb on the bike and ride it again and again has become a part of the permanent inventory of our personal intelligence. This aspect of insight makes intelligence a continually developing process of acquisition, enrichment, and application.

These basic characteristics of insight configure all types of intelligence. They are recurring aspects of mental operations. Indeed, the insights that make-up philanthropic intelligence occur in this fashion. This means that, like all other kinds of intelligence and learning, philanthropic intelligence is dynamic in nature, cumulative in effect, and a lifelong process.

Four Stages of Human Cognition

We now consider the operations of the mind in terms of four stacked and sequentially related stages. In the order of occurrence these stages are: 1) experience, 2) understanding, 3) judgment and 4) decision. Beginning with experience, each one of these stages consists of a unique set of mental operations. Each presupposes and builds upon the work carried out in the previous stage. Thinking might be likened to a "cognitive wheel" in which the stages are represented by quarters of its turn. The movement and development of the mind is shown as a series of operations directed in a clockwise turn from stage one at one o'clock to stage four at nine.

The mental operation unique to the first stage is experience. Our consciousness of this first operation is of a "sensory flow of data." In the evolutionary development of intelligence this is our first and most basic type of knowing. It consists of seeing, touching, hearing, feeling, or a multitude of other states of simple awareness.

The reader can become aware of this stage by an act of imagination. For example, I am sitting in the sunroom of our home as I write this. By focusing my attention, I can become aware of the feeling of the heel of my hand on the console of my computer. I hear crickets chirping outside in the flower garden and the distant rush of traffic on the main street. The ceiling fan hums overhead. I describe the experience that anyone might have if they were in this room of my house at this particular time of the day the feel of the computer console, the sound of crickets in the garden, the distant roar of traffic, and the hum of the fan overhead.

What brings the vast flow of sensory data into focus and form is our selective attention. We may sit in our backyard under a starry summer sky and be utterly oblivious to the sky if we are lost in thought. But should our thoughtful revelry be broken, we may lift our eyes upward and suddenly be startled by the immense twinkling canopy above us. By such selective attention the vast changing horizon of sensory data can be framed into a particular part of the whole, much like the act of focusing a camera shot reduces a wide and diffuse background into a distinct picture.

In a thousand active and passive ways our consciousness is focused everyday. Our attention is turned so that something is noticed, or some dramatic occurrence grabs our attention. In a similar way, our imagination can conjure a lovely memory and suddenly we are lost in a flight of fantasy. You might say we swim in this vast sea of sensation.

As we have indicated, the immense stream of consciousness in which we all live receives specific form and focus when we attend to some particular part of it. This occurs both as a result of our deliberate choice as well as a function of the arresting character of the flow of data itself. For example, we can hardly say that we choose to look at a deer when it suddenly leaps across the highway in front of us. Rather, the event breaks into our consciousness. Thus, at the stage of experience our awareness is both active and reactive.

But if we acknowledge that the specific presentations and selections which shape the particular stream of our consciousness are both actively fixed upon and passively received by us, what determines the unique frame and flow of sensory experiences? To answer this question we must introduce the notion of patterns of experience.

We might compare patterns of experience to pairs of glasses whose lenses are tinted with various colors. The particular tint of the lens shades the way the experience is viewed. Patterns of experience determine both what and how we see reality. A particular pattern of experience organizes and even controls the stream of consciousness. Our personal interests, strivings, and purposes define these patterns. Anteaters do not make good candidates for astronomy because their primary interests do not lie in the stars. A religious mystic may not care at all to read The Congressional Register,, but for the ambitious senator such things are important daily fare. Is a glass of water half full or half empty? It depends upon your perspective and the extent of your thirst.

For the sake of our study, there are perhaps five distinctive patterns of human experience. These are the biological, aesthetic, intellectual, dramatic, and religious patterns. Each describes a unique panorama of perception. Each pattern involves a propensity not only to see particular things but also to see and experience them in somewhat different ways. Let us survey the characteristics of these five patterns of experience.

The first is the biological pattern of experience. It is determined by a set of biological processes whose ultimate purpose is to sustain life. The biological pattern of experience consists of our sensations, images, memories, strivings, desires, emotions, and bodily movements, all of which serve to enable us to eat, sleep, preserve ourselves, and reproduce. In the natural world the biological pattern may vary widely, even though there is an intelligible form to each different expression of it. For example, the biological pattern of a sea moss is restricted to a few elementary processes that enable it to obtain sustenance and to propagate offspring. In comparison the biological pattern of an elephant will involve complex rearing and nurturing habits, lengthy social learning, and relatively wide-ranging migrations for food and water. For humankind, the biological pattern is perhaps uniquely complex, although we do not imply here that other creatures lack their own marvelously developed mechanisms for survival. The pattern in humans describes our biological orientation to the environment as our vital sensory consciousness responds and adapts to its external circumstances to fulfill basic needs. It combines both the voluntary and involuntary activities of people and is the most elementary pattern of all human experiences.

A second orientation is the aesthetic pattern of experience,. Human existence is never merely a biological striving for preservation and propagation. On the contrary, we are inveterate singers, dancers, sportsman, hobbyists, artists, and poets. We have a need to celebrate the freedom and wonder of our existence through a multitude of creative expressions that have no bearing on biological necessities. This aesthetic pattern of experience encompasses our appreciation for beauty, graceful movement, spontaneous play, and other artistic expressions.

The slugger's grand-slam homerun, a prima ballerina's encore, an artistic masterpiece, and the emotional catharsis felt at a Greek tragedy all sum-up the aesthetic experience. But these descriptions do not begin to comprehend the subtle and ineffable intelligence that both creates and appreciates the aesthetic event.

All aesthetic experience obeys a logic that both mirrors life and transcends it. The artist, whatever the art, uses symbolic language to create the "new thing." And the appreciative beholder participates in the art form's mysterious transaction of reality. For most, if not all persons, life without symphonies, art museums, poetry, play, and sport would be wearisome and flat. Later in our study we will see what a strong motivational factor the aesthetic experience is for philanthropic behavior.

A third orientation is the intellectual pattern of experience. It is our spirit of inquiry that enlivens this pattern of human experience and drives the mind to seek answers to life's innumerable questions, to probe the meaning behind the appearance of things, and to discern the reasons for this, that, and the other. We should discount the easy presumption that the intellectual pattern of experience is the sole domain of trained scientists and academic intellectuals. The fact is this pattern emerges early in the development of all persons and is evidenced in the incessant questions of little children, whose disarming inquiries can baffle and astound even astute adults. When coupled with careful study and a lifetime of analytical mastery, the spirit of inquiry produces Nobel laureates, scientific breakthroughs, and great scholars. In lesser mortals the intellectual pattern yields all sorts of skills, competencies, and practical know-how. It lends an analytical flavor and inquisitive depth to many human endeavors whether they are the remote control skills of a coach potato or the scientific judgment of a nuclear physicist.

A fourth orientation is the dramatic pattern of experience, which unfolds in the vast public sectors of life and is a tool for getting on in the world. "All of life is a stage," as the saying goes, and we are actors who play our parts. The metaphor is profoundly apt. Indeed, in a given day each of us may assume a multitude of different roles, each one with its own script, each calling forth subtle changes in our self-understanding and in the perception others have of us.

So we play our roles. But they are much more than the theatrical displays, because these dramatic roles are the ways we get on in life and help get things done. Our parts in the vast drama of life begin simply when we are children. We learn to walk and talk, which are dramatic events in their own right. We develop skills in school as the social drama unfolds in broadening spheres of acquaintance and influence. We try on roles and explore various vocations. In all of this we learn the infinite social subtleties of life. We grow up, become adept at the business and the art of society. We strut our stuff on the stage of life.

The dramatic pattern of experience comprises the feelings, purposes, strivings, and images that are both our personal creation and the social, economic, and political fabric which we inherit and into which we are born. The stage is an immense public sector where we, as subjects, carry on a continuous dialogue with many other players, which dialogue defines us, changes us, and causes various degrees of pleasure and pain to us. In general, the insights and skills we acquire through the dramatic pattern of experience are eminently practical. They are the tone and technology of our walk and our talk.

A final orientation is the religious pattern of experience. This distinctive pattern of experience is perhaps as human intelligence itself. It has always combined elements of the other four patterns, but organizes them according to the impulses, constraints, and aspirations of divine or spiritual authority. This pattern is often characterized by deep and profound experiences of the holy or sacred. Its promptings are organized in terms of covenants, rituals, worship, and systems of belief.

The large systems of belief that configure this pattern of experience lend meaning and ultimate purposes to the groups and communities that perform and honor them. Frequently, strong sets of moral teachings define the self-understanding and concepts of social responsibility that identify various religious groups.

Strong Forces of Human Experience

This excursus on the five patterns of human experience may appear to be an interesting digression whose apparent relevance to our study is indeterminate. However, these five experiential lenses through which the vast stream of consciousness is filtered might be called the "strong forces" of personal orientation. In subtle and significant ways they create a distinctive perspective from which life is felt, experienced, and embraced.

For the sake of our study to this point, it is enough to say that these five patterns of human experience are major factors in determining philanthropic behavior. They shape the cognitive parameters within which philanthropic intelligence develops. They become the strong forces of charitable interests and commitments. Later in this study we will elaborate the specific implications of the five patterns for giving.

Understanding: The Second Stage of Human Cognition

Having considered the first stage of thinking, we are now prepared to examine the second stage that is understanding. As we have said, the desire to understand and a general curiosity about the world are twin features of the human mind. Our minds are constructed so as to bring order and meaning to the vast flow of data that bombards us daily. The mind is not satisfied merely to receive feelings, images, and experiences. It wants to understand them, to bring a coherent order to them, and ultimately to relate them to its own interests and needs. At its second stage of understanding the mind takes the raw material that it receives at the first stage of experience and performs a set of unique mental operations on it. Very simply, understanding shifts, examines, and probes the sensory flow of data in order to "layer" it with form, purpose, significance, and meaning. The result of these operations of understanding is the creation of a higher viewpoint.

What makes the higher viewpoint possible is insight. Insights are so basic to thinking that we seldom think very much about them. And yet in a given day our minds grasp a multitude of insights without which competent and intelligent existence would be impossible. At the most fundamental level understanding begins with the act of naming. It is perhaps not by accident that virtually all civilizations feature stories and myths about the act of naming. Helen Keller's discovery of the names of things at the water pump opened to her a new and astonishing world of meaning and understanding. In effect her discovery of language at the water pump was the vehicle that transports her from the nebulous flow of experience at the first stage of thinking to the higher viewpoints of the stage of understanding. At once the dark, undifferentiated rush of sensations is transfigured into a meaningful world of things, signs, and their shimmering relationships.

Helen Keller's revelation at the well is a dramatic glimpse into the startling jump of the mind that occurs between stage one and stages two. We know from her amazing story that Keller proceeds from the early revelation to construct in her mind a universe of names, roles, relationships, purposes, and frames of reference which enable her to lead a productive if not remarkable life despite her profound disability.

At the well, Keller rushes around after the initial recognition of the name for water seeking the names for everything else in her world. This scene mimics not only the experience of children learning language but also the lifelong process of all humans as insight piles on insight and our intelligent grasp of the world enlarges. At stage two, insights accumulate and are refined by further insights. In turn, these insights cluster to form ideas, laws, perspectives, and frameworks of meaning.

In the practical sphere of human existence we relate all things that we know to ourselves. Our aim is quite simple. We strive to understand the world around us and to find our rightful place in it. Intelligence at the second cognitive stage consists of five essential clusters of meaning. These clusters of meaning or insight are:

  • meaningful language;
  • meaningful work, skills, and technology;
  • meaningful social relations;
  • meaningful communication;
  • meaningful spiritual perspectives.

Language is the first cluster of meaning. By it we name and organize our personal existence and the world in general. Signs, symbols, words, sentences, and concepts convey language. From the pure symbolic logic of math to the ambiguous idiosyncrasies of poetry; from the crude jabbering of infants to the subtle essays of master scientists; from quaint aphorisms to labyrinthine sophistries; language enables us to create richly latticed frameworks of meaning which shape and determine every aspect of human culture and personal expression.

A second and related cluster of meaning deals with our work and the technologies with which we accomplish the world's business. Our labors and the fruits of our labors are deliberate social activities. Everywhere one can see the evidence of our planned and intentional efforts to subdue the earth and build systems of production. We construct roads and on them travel from place to place transporting goods and services. We plow the fields to grow food, mine the earth's resources to exploit their wealth, and devise ingenious ways to transmit messages across space. Our cities bear the imprint of our designs. They are complex crossroads of our making where industry, commerce, communications, and transportation work in concert to deliver the goods that sustain us, shelter us, entertain us, and enlighten us. Every person's work is his/her contribution to this vast efficiency.

Social meaning gives us a third cluster of insights. Just as language and our work bear meaning so too do our social institutions which knit our societies together. The family, church, civic club, school, and government all embody the various sets of ideas that constitute our shared social contract. These institutions preserve and manifest the meaningful ideas that make our common life practical, humane, efficient, and tolerable if not enjoyable.

A fourth arena of meaning involves our communication. The art and the act of communication by speech, literature, symbolism, and ritual are the shuttle-buses of all other aspects of our meaningful existence as human beings. Through communication we send and receive messages about all dimensions of life about the meaning of personal experience, the purposes and means of work, and the shared joys and obligations of society.

One final cluster of meaning has to do with the ultimate purposes and patterns of our spiritual life. This is, in the words of one writer, the sacred canopy beneath which we experience the answers to life's ultimate questions and final dimensions. Symbols and ideas explore the depths of our capacity for good and evil. Sacred responsibility and unconditioned obligation define our relationship to God.

These five broad clusters of meaning constitute the immense context of our second cognitive level called understanding. In the course of a lifetime our minds will fashion an ever-changing tapestry of ideas, insights, and meanings that are uniquely ours. One important strand in this tapestry is what we have called philanthropic intelligence. Philanthropy is a kind of moral and eminently practical intelligence that defines our inescapable solidarity with and obligation to all human beings.

But how is this philanthropic intelligence formed and how does it function? A simple definition of philanthropic intelligence will begin an answer to the question before us.

Philanthropic intelligence is the framework of meanings, reasons and insights that define our relationship to other people, to nature, and to God and which framework yields concrete acts of kindness and generosity.

Clearly philanthropic intelligence touches upon the five great clusters of meaning we have discussed. It is not so much a static set of ideas as it is a dynamic, ever-changing perspective on the obligations of human generosity. This generous perspective encompasses virtually all aspects of human understanding including our idea of work, our sense of self, our role in society, and our relationship to God. The formation of it involves six large clusters of insight which we will call "insight blocks."

The subject of the first insight block is our continuity as persons in human history. All people need to feel they are connected to an unbroken chain of humanity which stretches back into the past through ancestors and which will go on beyond the present in the lives of the yet unborn. Virtually all human beings cultures link past generations to present and future ones by telling stories and enacting rituals of remembrance. Human beings have an acute need to order and orient their time so that the past, present, and future are experienced coherently. By keeping traditions, families, groups, and nations preserve valuable lessons, momentous events, and enduring truths. They bind successive generations in a continuous unfolding of human history.

At the personal level, individuals find meaning in history by being able to possess an ancestry and to give away a posterity. The one we inherit from the past. The other we bequeath to the future. This need for personal continuity in history and time has enormous consequences for the formation of philanthropic intelligence. We shall explore these consequences in a subsequent chapter, but for now it is sufficient to observe that a personal sense of historical continuity is one of the principal reasons why people practice philanthropy.

There is another insight block that influences acts of generosity. Individuals find meaning in solidarity with their communities. "No man is an island unto himself." An individual's linkage with social groups is not just a satisfying diversion from his/her personal life. Each one of us is inescapably bound to social circles. Indeed, every person is born yoked to his mother by a physical umbilical cord. At birth this physical cord is severed, but other social relationships like parental love, family ties, language and learning keep individuals in a lifelong web of social influences.

In truth even the most introverted of persons still rely upon and even crave the company of others. The individual and the social group exist in a social symbiosis outside of which human personality as we know it would be unthinkable. For example, language is acquired in social interchange with parents and caregivers. People learn to speak in society. Virtually all social skills beyond the most instinctive ones are perfected in the social contexts of family, school, and peer groups.

The individual's placement in society, what we can call his intersubjectivity, is the interpersonal arena in which his loves, loyalties, learnings, skills, beliefs, and perspectives are formed. Whether because of nature, nurture, or a combination of both, individuals are social creatures. Not surprisingly, our sense of belonging to each other is powerful and profound. This sense of solidarity is manifested in the intimate attachments of child to parent, of lover to loved one, of citizen to state, of believer to religion, and of member to civic organization. These social roles define innumerable facets of our sociability. Thus, there is a strong and abiding social aspect to our self-understanding. Our sense of self is inextricably linked to the social roles we play, the contributions we make to larger social communities, and the perceptions others have of us. To varying degrees, all of us need to find and cultivate positive attitudes toward and personally satisfying roles in society. It is easy to see how potentially important these social connections can be in determining philanthropic behavior. For if an individual possesses a strong sense of social solidarity, these connections with family, group, club, church, organization, and nation will yield acts of loyalty, allegiance, love, and generosity.

A third cognitive task that contributes to the formation of philanthropic intelligence is our innate capacity to envision and to work for the fulfillment of life's infinite possibilities. This inherent quality of the human mind is advanced in full view of life's unavoidable restrictions, pitfalls, and tragedies, but instead of merely accepting them, the mind invariably charts alternative courses that bring hope, imagination, and possibility into play.

In Gone With the Wind Scarlet O'Hara daringly declares, "There's always a tomorrow." It is no stretch of either the facts or the reader's credulity to assert that the human mind is infinitely resourceful if not considerably optimistic. Hope springs eternal in the multitude of gracious acts, ambitious plans, venturesome projects, and utopian schemes that seem to bubble forth from the minds of persons and the collective consciousness of social groups.

We are inveterate dreamers and our thinking is full of expansive projections that stretch the boundaries of present conditions. We will see later in this study that there is a bit of Don Quixote in all philanthropists. How else does one explain our willingness to invest our lives, our wealth, and sacred devotion to projects whose benefits the cynic might easily argue people can do without. Doesn't this expansive idealism of the mind partly reveal the urgency of the protagonist in Robert Frost's poem who says "and I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep." Such an urgency of the mind is one of the personal insights which motivates philanthropic intelligence.

The three cognitive tasks that influence philanthropic behavior (continuity, solidarity, and possibility) all contribute to the formation of a fourth insight block: the human mind seeks personal authenticity. People want their lives to be valuable and fulfilling. Everyone seeks a measure of happiness, whether it be found in the intimate joy of personal friendship, the camaraderie and achievements of work, the refreshing exuberance of play, the civic duties public service, or the inspirations of religious devotion. Although its specific requirements may change with the advancing seasons of human understanding, authentic existence is virtually always seen as the good and happy life.

The human quest for personal authenticity is just that; it generally necessitates deliberate planning, careful attention, personal discipline, and a lifetime of self-reflection. Being and staying happy are hard work. In traditional religion the authentic life is described as a work of salvation. The believer is depicted as a pilgrim on the way to salvation whose personal sin always threatens to wreck his/her efforts and derail spiritual progress. More secular views of the authentic life identify the continual impediments of ignorance, bad judgment, poor skills, and sinister fate.

The role of philanthropy in our quest to obtain personal authenticity is variously understood. In traditional Catholicism, for example, good works were the effective consequence of the life of divine grace. In Protestant Calvinism personal righteousness demonstrated the status of true believers as the elect people of God. Popular versions of the good life found in contemporary American culture point to the positive feedback that good works possess: doing good feels good. It carries its own emotional payoff in the form of good feelings and elevated self-esteem.

Whether its role is seen in terms of gratitude to a gracious God, a sign of righteousness, or an emotional boost, philanthropic intelligence receives considerable inspiration and guidance from the human quest for authentic existence. True stories abound of personal conversions, both religious and secular in nature that foster acts of generosity and philanthropy. Charitable souls tell of giving to feel whole, because they have seen the light, out of deep gratitude to God, or for the sheer joy of it. Acts of charity may not directly cause the attainment of authenticity, but they surely do mark its trajectory over the course of a lifetime of questing.

We reserve for last the insight block that is formed in the face of life's greatest mystery. We refer to the need which persons have for a meaningful perspective on their death. The demands of this task are simple and essential: How does one anticipate one's own dying in such a way to make some sense of it? For some, the fact of death defies all human understanding and even mocks our attempts to make sense of it. Some conclude that at death we cease to exist and that's the end of it. Those who subscribe to this view do not necessarily conclude that they have no posterity. On the contrary, they may fervently believe their memory lives on in the consciousness of family and friends. Moreover, what the dead has accomplished in their lifetime may also endure. These thoughts can be a source of comfort when the dying face their end.

But for many persons death is seen as the end of one phase of existence that is linked to a larger and ongoing process of creation and life. The visible world passes into the invisible world. The realm of the physical fades away and becomes the new and transfigured realm of the spirit. The dead body is raised. The one life is reincarnated into another. The gateway from time into eternity is opened. The earthly journey ceases and yet somehow continues in a subsequent spiritual sojourn on the "other side."

These visions of death are personal insights that have immense consequences for the way people behave. Acts of self-transcending philanthropy express the belief on the part of the donor that death need not have the final word. By making a charitable gift in their will or by contributing to a cause before their death, people may have the satisfaction of knowing that their generosity adds enduring value to a world that goes on.

The five great insight blocks we have surveyed continuity, solidarity, possibility, authenticity, and immortality are important matters of the mind at the second stage of cognition. They are like magnetic markers in the vast web of human understanding. These five blocks of insight are the administrators of personal meaning. As such they also play a critical role in the formation of philanthropic intelligence. They are both a framework of reference and the fuel of motivation for acts of generosity.

Level Three: Judgement

Our study has described a series of layered cognitions involving four stages of recurring mental operations. Beginning at stage one, we are conscious of a sensory flow of data, which is registered as stimuli to the senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and feeling. In general the flow of sensory data is free and unfocused until the mind bring specific intention to particular parts of the whole. Consciousness at the first stage of experience is intuitive and basic. At the second stage of understanding consciousness adds a layer of insight and meaning to the sensory flow of data received at the first stage. Meanings, reasons, and understandings cluster into great insight blocks that enable persons to acquire intelligent perspective and competent skills with which to get on in life. These great insight blocks also provide the mental prism through which all experience and understanding are refracted.

As we have seen, philanthropic intelligence is formed at these two stages of consciousness. However, the work of philanthropic intelligence is not completed here. Instead, it adds a unique set of operations and higher viewpoints found at the third stage of consciousness called judgment. Here the mind sorts and shifts through the meanings, reasons, and insights of level two according to a set of criteria. These criteria are factuality, truthfulness, and value.

Much of what we receive and learn in community at the first stage of consciousness is initially accepted uncritically. We learn what we are told and we are told to accept it. We defer to the authority of parents, teachers, and other role models. We receive and embrace the ideas, customs, and virtues of the society of our fathers and mothers. The young might be described as passive receptacles of the cultures into which they are born. In the scheme of things we are all given a name, a language, a history, a community as well as the culture and traditions they imply.

The rich heritages into which we are born and from which we receive so much are not to be disparaged. But even at a relatively young age the personal and social assets that are given us are not merely received like a vessel accepts the liquid poured into it. Rather, our minds are in a constant and critical dialogue with the messages they receive. Indeed, as we grow up we increasingly scrutinize the culture and ideas we have inherited. This "work of scrutiny" is the domain of the third stage of cognition called judgment.

Judgment performs two scrutinies. It surveys its experience and its understanding in an attempt to sort truth from falsity. Second, it subjects its experience and its understanding to the plumb line of value.

Everyday in a multitude of situations, we subject our experience and our understanding to the tests and scrutinies of judgment. The sun sets on a clear, Sunday, and before going to bed, we turn on the radio and hear the weatherman forecast rain for Monday. When we step outside in the morning to leave for work, thunder rumbles and the air smells sweet with moisture. We nod in quiet assent to the factuality of the weatherman's prediction. In a very different situation we visit the incredible "She Ape" at the annual carnival show and watch with our own eyes as a bikini-clad women changes into a chest-pounding ape. Even though the transformation looks real, we chuckle in appreciative disbelief knowing that what looks like an astonishing fact is really only an illusion made of smoke and mirrors and theatrical deception.

Closely akin to the matter of factuality is that of truth or veracity. Judgment performs this scrutiny by marshaling a host of insights and assumptions as it sizes up the situation before it. For example, the advocates of a metropolitan opera assert that their organization's existence is vital to the quality of a city's life. If we enjoy the opera, if we appreciate its historical origins, if we admire the mastery of skills its performers possess, and if its musical presentations move our hearts and uplift our spirit, then we may heartily agree that the opera does play a vital role in the city's life. We may concur with the notion that an opera enriches and humanizes the quality of urban existence. We believe the opera is a significant asset to a city because our appreciation of the opera satisfies a set of conditions. It is enjoyable, rich in musical tradition, and presents human talent at its best.

But what if we do not appreciate the opera. Suppose we have no personal interest in it. Perhaps we believe the opera is a colossal bore and the exclusive domain of effete snobs, as the cultural despisers might say. Then we certainly would not agree that every great city should have an opera. In effect it is not true for some people that operas are important even though for others operas surely are. As the saying goes, "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

This is all a way of saying that judgment is a highly personal matter. Its scrutinies result in personal assessments that are as idiosyncratic as people are different. As we are using the term here, truth is a personal and subjective standard. The truth we seek is our truth and not some universal and objective Truth with a big "T." Second we judge a situation and weigh the evidence on the basis of pre-determined conditions, beliefs, and values. That is, we come to our judgment of truth or falsity by corroborating our personal values with the evidence before us.

At the core of personal values are the concepts of desire and perhaps even more importantly the idea of "particular goods." The idea of a particular good need not be elaborated with subtle ethical distinction. It may simply be expressed as the belief that opera music is valuable, or people shouldn't go hungry, or higher education prepares young people for life, or healthcare should be universal. These ideas of the particular good are numerous in number, diverse in character, and part of both the conscience of individuals and the cultures of peoples.

The importance of particular goods for the formation and expression of philanthropic behavior is enormous. They are especially influential when one considers the vast array of philanthropic causes from which a charitably minded person must choose in a free and pluralistic society. The issue that faces every responsible and civic-minded individual in American society is, among all the various good things we might do, what will we do and why must we do it?

This issue assumes special importance for the individual when the limitations of time, energy, and circumstance are taken into consideration. A typical life, while perhaps open to a multitude of good intentions, is actually defined by a much smaller number of concrete acts. Although limited, however, these acts are personally decisive because by them we give practical expression to the particular goods we value and admire. These good deeds become a kind of moving picture of the desires of our will and the habits of our heart.

The highest viewpoint among the mental operations of judgment is the sorting of personal values and the determination of the particular goods that define our sense of personal responsibility. By sorting values and deciding upon the particular goods that will define their life, donors enter the transitional territory that lies between the third and fourth stages of human cognition. In this domain of the mind thinking begins to engage the will. Thoughts merge with intentions and gather a momentum that sweeps the thinker toward action. Values assume a dynamic life of their own and drive their sponsors to action. Consciousness at the third stage of judgment completes its particular work and launches the thinker into the fourth and final stage of cognition.

Stage Four: Decision

In stage four, decision completes the sequence of cognitive operations. For philanthropy stage four witnesses the moment of truth when the values, if robust enough, inspire acts of generosity. Everyday, across this country, legions of generous people give to causes, charities, missions, and philanthropies. Their acts of kindness are quite remarkable if you think about it. No one forces them to give. The benefits they receive from giving are certainly not comparable in tangible value to the gift. And yet these generous folk give and in giving they touch a mystery.

In rare cases donors may decide to give without much reflection, although some considerable thought generally accompanies most charitable acts. I have tried to show that a series of experiences, insights, understandings, and judgments stack up in the mind and form the cognitive pretext of all decisions. This is especially true of charitable acts. Nearly every decision to give is the result of a moment of recognition in the mind of the donor. The donor sees something. He or she acknowledges that and organization's appeal for financial support strikes a responsive chord in their mind.

This moment of recognition engages the mind of the donor at the level of core beliefs where consciousness and conscience touch, linking human thought and actions. The cognitive forces that create the moment of recognition yield something akin to a kind of conversion. The donor's perspective is radically altered and with it an ethical pathway is opened. Following Bernard Lonergan's term in his work, Insight, we call this event an "eureka" experience.

Eureka experiences characterize the workings of the mind at the highest and perhaps the deepest level of perception. In the particular case of philanthropic intelligence, the eureka moment witnesses the integration and synthesis of the experiences, insights, reasons, understandings, and judgments that define the donor's encounter with the cause and case of the charitable organization. Very simply, the donor recognizes not only the surpassing merit but also the supreme value of the charitable cause and its case. This eureka experience may be frequently dramatic and infused with arresting insight and moving conviction.

The eureka or moment of recognition is not without an element of mystery. We may be able to chart progress in the donor's thinking to elementary experiences that familiarize him to the cause; to insights that enlarge his understanding; to meanings that deepen connections linking donor to cause; or to judgments of benefit that match the values of the individual to those of the organization: but how does one explain that resulting act which both defines and surpasses all that proceeds it in the mind?

As we have suggested the development of philanthropic intelligence displays a kind of sweeping motion of the mind that moves in a clockwise manner around the rim with experience in the first quadrant, understanding in the second, judgment in the third, and decision in the fourth quadrant.

This operation of the mind is continual, because at the culmination of a cycle, decision both ends the previous cycle and begins a new cycle. The philanthropic mind never rests. But this explanation is theoretical and requires a more practical description of its workings.

Therefore, let us imagination how a philanthropist might become a supporter of a local ballet company. The individual is invited by a friend to a command performance of the city's ballet company. Although the person has never attended a ballet performance before and certainly doesn't consider himself a ballet aficionado, the individual enjoys the program and promises to return for another evening of cultural entertainment. His experience of ballet, although still limited, is enriched by an evening of elegant dancers in sparkling costumes moving about the stage in graceful harmony to lovely music. At intermission he is introduced to the Company's executive director who expresses genuine pleasure in the philanthropist's attendance at the performance. He is charmed. As he returns home that evening, a swirl of images and sublime emotions fill his mind. Before going to bed he takes up a program and reads a history of the ballet. He is intrigued.

In the weeks that follow the man receives additional information about the ballet and begins to see what a unique role it has played in the cultural life of his city. For example, he learns that the company employs 68 people and that it brings in more than $1 million in tourist trade to the metropolitan area, since about 20% of all attendees come from out of town. He is surprised to learn that the Company also participates in an annual educational program for public school kids. Our friend is impressed.

These additional facts about the ballet deepen the man's awareness of the ballet. Over the months to come he gradually acquires a sense of the value and benefit to the city and its people. Indeed, he begins to filter his newfound love for the ballet through the prism of a series of insight blocks that now informs his perspective on the performing art. He sees that for a significant number of its supporters the ballet is a vital part of their life. Watching performances of the ballet satisfies a deep-seated aesthetic need that enriches their existence and without which these persons would go unfulfilled. The man even begins to acknowledge his own personal pleasure in attending ballet performances.

But like many civic-minded citizens, the philanthropist has other charitable interests including the zoo, Rotary Club, church, his college, and a number of environmental groups. Although he is an individual of considerable means, the man is careful and thoughtful in his charitable support. Nevertheless, when the Board of the ballet approaches him to serve, the man takes a week to weigh the matter and then says yes, knowing there will be a annual gift expectation which is equal to or greater than any of his present commitments. In fact, as the man is considering whether to serve on the ballet Board, he experiences a particularly vivid moment when he feels absolutely sure of his desire to volunteer. And in deciding to serve, he feels a newfound pride and deep personal satisfaction.

This illustration is perhaps repeated in real life every day in various cities around our country and the world. When we ask what are people thinking when they are giving the answer sends us inside the mind of generous donors and philanthropists. We almost always find gripping experiences of a charitable organization that invite and intrigue the potential supporter. We also note a host of insights, which enable the donor to appreciate the salient features of the organization's role in society and relationship to the donor. In the midst of many other worthy causes the donor will have come to see the merit and perhaps even the surpassing value of the organization's mission. And finally, there will have come a time in the donor's life when he or she decides to support the organization because nothing less seems appropriate.

Insights That Foster Planned Gifts

My circuitous route has taken us on a long, but I trust fruitful journey, into the mind of generosity. We have asked what the donor is thinking when he/she is giving. We have assumed that giving and generosity are matters of the mind. We have noticed how insight is the basic building block of human consciousness and the packhorse of intelligence. We have proposed that generosity has an intelligence shape to it.

Let us proceed now to consider the practical implications of philanthropic intelligence for fundraising and concrete ways the gift officer can foster planned and major gifts from their donor prospects. Following the four cognitive levels we propose four distinct cultivation strategies for fostering gift giving. These are the presentation strategy at the level of experience, the insight strategy for the second level of understanding, the judgement strategy for the level of judgement, and the decision strategy for level four.

As we have seen, philanthropic intelligence unfolds in the donor's mind in terms of four stack and sequentially relative thinkings or cognitive processes. Experience is the first and most basic stage of philanthropic intelligence. What can the gift officer and his/her institution do to foster and form experiences in the donor's mind that are vivid? This is the most fundamental "touch" the officer will make on behalf of the institution's case for support. We can call this touch our "presentation strategy" and it should set the cognitive stage with vivid, clear, and appropriate data that is both factual and full of feeling.

Gift officers may overlook the obvious in their attempt to present elaborate gift vehicles when the prospective donor lacks even a rudimentary experience of the cause to which the gift is being given. The donor will ideally have a strong feel for the case and a personal identification with it. This strong first-hand experience of the case is the cognitive platform upon which gift cultivation must be built, for until the donor has a visceral relationship to the particular case they can hardly be expected to consider a financial commitment to it.

But getting the donor's attention only begins the process of cultivation. Tuning the case to the mind of the donor will invariably lead from the first level of experience to the second cognitive level of understanding.

The cultivation of a donor for a planned gift will invariably necessitate the implementation of an insight strategy. This strategy involves deepening the donor's understanding of the rationale for making a gift. The gift officer builds meaningful connections in the donor's mind and the case for support. These cognitive bridges will be as complex and diverse as human experience itself, but in general a cluster or honeycomb of meanings, reasons, understandings will wed the donor's needs and interests to the particular gift case. For example, a planned gift or bequest will express the donor's desire to establish continuity with a cause beyond his/her life and to transcend one's own mortality through the perpetual good work of an endowed gift. The gift will be meaningful to the donor precisely because it has been refracted through the prism of insights, reasons, and understandings that constitute his/her unique frame of reference.

But merely understanding the case will not always be enough. On the American scene a typical planned gift donor may understand the rationale for a score of worthy causes. Their sponsors may communicate regularly with this donor through a myriad of newsletters and correspondence.

In his/her judgment strategy, the gift officer must differentiate his/her case from all others. The goal is for the donor to recognize the surpassing value of this one case over all others. To accomplish this task, the gift officer will help the donor to sort through the various philanthropic appeals before him/her. The fundraiser will attempt to match the values implicit in the particular case with those of the donor.

What must a donor see before he/she is ready to support the city ballet over an homeless shelter. What is more important to a 60s-something widower, his College or the community's hospice program? Where and how does a charitable organization provide social value and how does this value stack up against many other worthy charitable ventures. The gift officer's judgement strategy will help the donor sort out fact from fiction and get the donor to choose the particular case that has surpassing value.

The fourth and final cultivation strategy, the decision strategy, will, by definition, will proactive, dynamic, and oriented to the moment of truth. All previous communication with the donor, all relationship building activities, and all cognitive formation converge toward the donor's decision to act on behalf of the philanthropic case. In the mind of the donor, the stacked and sequentially related insights of a lifetime fuel the emergence of an irrevocable impulse. The donor sees the unavoidable consequence of his/her thinking. This thinking takes up arms. It spills from the mind of generosity onto the stage of human action. And in one of life's great mysteries, a creature made of dust and clay blesses creation with an act of generosity.

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