I’ve spent my adult life teaching literary things to entry-level or advanced students. One day, it might be how the sonnets of Petrarch yielded the great flowering of poetry of the Elizabethan age. The next day it might be how Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man fits into the development of the American novel. These are questions on which I might carry a bit of credibility. But money? Few would think, “Hey, I’ll ask an English teacher about money.” Yet, I have learned a little about giving and value.
In an era when American democracy depends on ideas and civic engagement, our public sector rarely steps up to fund humanities when other pressing needs (health, science, technology, global development) call for funding. A few years ago, a college buddy explained his strategy for giving money. (He has made a lot of it and is very generous in giving it away.) Over coffee, I learned something new about money. Smart money.
When my financially-astute friend wants to support a project, he looks for impact. Is the project attracting funding partners? He analyzes whether his seed money can make a difference, rather than being merely “icing on the cake.” He wants to know if his money will be leveraged or matched to create more capacity. Impact. Partnership. Leverage. These are his guidelines for making smart money gifts.
Those features all apply when giving to Oklahoma Humanities' programs and endowments!
Impact: Oklahoma Humanities grants help communities fund things that matter to them—at a local level.
Partnership: Getting an Oklahoma Humanities program means that a community—small or large—has agreed to build public and private partnerships.
Leverage: An Oklahoma Humanities partnership keeps projects accountable for private funding and in-kind donations to leverage support for maximum effectiveness. Your dollar is often matched by other private donations and funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
I give to Oklahoma Humanities because I love the humanities projects we support; but I rest easy knowing that my gifts, however large or small, are smart money.