I’ve read the amazing book The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources by colleague and friend, Lynne Twist, countless times. I’ve purchased more than 100 copies to give as a gift to nonprofit staffs, boards, and philanthropists.
Now that a new edition was released in March, I’ll probably purchase a hundred more. I love this book.
Recently, Lynne sat down with Oprah Winfrey to talk about the Soul of Money for Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. It’s a terrific conversation that you may want to view with your board & staff.
Using beautiful stories and poignant personal examples The Soul of Money takes us through a thorough and critical look at how we’ve given our power over to money.
Lynne asks us to take a deep look at our relationship with money as development professionals, parents, business owners, employees, and engaged community members, to identify the true purpose of money for each of us and how it connects with our own core values.
Lynne believes, as I do, that our work in the social profit sector is sacred work.
In the chapter titled: “Money is like Water,” we learn the story of Gertrude, a woman most people would call poor. This chapter provides a true example of the power of money when it is infused with purpose, integrity, and aligned with our soul.
On her way from San Francisco to Harlem, New York, Lynne stopped in Chicago to visit with the CEO of a major corporation to pick up a large check for The Hunger Project, the organization where she was working as a fundraiser.
Lynne had been told the major food corporation based in the tall, glass high-rise was guilty of some business practices that were a bit nasty and had an image problem. The corporation believed that by making a significant contribution to The Hunger Project they could start to clean up their image.
The stop to pick up the check was scheduled for the morning of the visit to Harlem. Lynne made her way to the CEO’s large office where he sat with his head down, back-lit by the sun shining through the large picture window. She could barely see his face during the meeting as he pushed the check across the desk. He clearly wanted her gone quickly. As Lynne describes it:
“I felt the guilt of the company coming right across that desk with the money.”
After the awkward meeting, Lynne hurried to the airport and made her way to New York City where she had been invited to visit. The feeling of the company’s shame stayed with Lynne through the plane ride and car ride to Harlem.
Lynne arrived in the midst of a rainstorm for the meeting located in the basement of an old church building in Harlem. She was late due to the weather, and entered the room packed with people who had heard about the work of The Hunger Project.
They had waited patiently for Lynne’s arrival while buckets collected the rain dripping into the basement; a world apart from the gleaming bright CEO office in Chicago from earlier in the day.
Lynne made her presentation with warmth and engaging stories and then came to the part where it was time to “ask for the money.” Though the room was full of the “working poor” Lynne made her request and then waited quietly.
After a few seconds of silence, a woman near the back stood up. She was in her late 60s or early 70s with graying hair and wrinkled hands and face. She stood tall, erect, and proud and said:
“Girl, my name is Gertrude and I like what you’ve said and I like you.
Now I ain’t got no checkbook or credit cards. To me, money is a lot like water. For some folks it rushes through their lives like a raging river.
Money comes through my life like a little trickle. But I want to pass it on in a way that does the most good for the most folks.
I see it as my right and my responsibility. It’s also my joy. I have fifty dollars in my purse that I earned from doing a white woman’s wash and I want to give it to you.”
Gertrude walked up the aisle and handed Lynne her $50 cash and then many others followed. On the plane ride back to San Francisco Lynne realized that below the ones and fives in her briefcase from the folks in Harlem was the $50,000 check from the food company.
The difference was the money from Gertrude and her friends carried the energy of commitment to make a difference.
And right then, even knowing that The Hunger Project desperately needed the funding, Lynne decided to return the check to the CEO.
Fast-forward five or six years after the $50,000 contribution was returned. Lynne received a letter from the CEO. He had since retired and had received a very lucrative exit package for his work.
In his letter he shared how the return of the $50,000 was one of the most significant memories of his career.
He had enclosed a check for many times the original amount and made it clear he wanted the money to make a difference. He wanted to make a meaningful contribution to end world hunger.
I believe it is our job as development professionals to “invite the money to stop by” to make its impact before it moves on to the next place.
And when we invite financial support that is a true expression of who a person truly is, it is a gift to the giver and to the organization.
The book is an awesome read. I hope you’ll give the gift to yourself to enjoy the wisdom from The Soul of Money. You can learn more about Lynne on Facebook, and her website The Soul of Money Institute.
If you’d like to know more about how your relationship with money affects how much money you raise, view the web class replay of Asking Matters “Fundraising Masters with Lori L. Jacobwith –Talking About the Soul of Money”