by Marc Bernard Ackerman, DMD, MBA

The School of Public Health at my University was strapped for cash. In order to secure the type of endowment needed for the long haul, they sold the naming rights of the school to the highest bidder. This is not the first time that I have seen this happen. Back in the 1980’s a medical school in New York City sold its naming rights. It just so happened that the family who gave the money made a large chunk of its fortune in the cigarette industry.  The staff physicians were not pleased with this and one pulmonary surgeon suffered the wrath of the administration by placing a sign above the entrance to his operating room, “Welcome to Marlboro Country.”

At a college graduation, a Dean was approached by a grateful parent who wanted to thank the person who had donated the scholarship that his daughter had received. The father asked if it would be possible to call or write to the person/company that had donated the money. The Dean put his hand on the man’s shoulder, took a deep breath, and said, “Your daughter has already thanked them by graduating with distinction.”

Anonymity in giving is one way to do it. Think about it. We all give in different ways in life and this is just one alternative for how you can do it.  In the world of Facebook and Twitter, it is a real test to overcome the desire to broadcast everything you do and if you have to do it, maybe you should do it with a little humility. That is not to say you should jump off the grid and not communicate with others your moments of joy, sadness, confusion, or helplessness. To each to their own in the realm of taste.

Giving in life isn’t optional, it’s our responsibility. I don’t care about how anyone does it; it is the act that counts. The stroke of a check may be someone’s preferred method (nothing wrong with this!), whereas others may choose to coach little league softball. In the era of socially conscious corporations and socially conscious single owner-operator businesses, keeping their giving secret isn’t good for encouraging individuals with similar beliefs to join in.

Although I am a practitioner of anonymous giving, I wouldn’t fault anyone for doing it differently.   Those in need don’t care who’s helping them, they are just grateful for the help in the first place.

7 thoughts on “Anonymity: A Different Way to Give

  1. Truly my favorite way to give back. No need for accolades or recognition.

    1. IMHO it’s kinda like being a real philanthropist versus playing one on Facebook!

      1. Its a slippery slope, but I lean towards “Philanthropy broadcast is merely marketing by another name.”

        1. If those in need are cared for, what difference does it make? Do you think those receiving help would turn down help from a self promoting donor?

          1. Not at all. Those in need don’t care.

  2. So true! Conspicuous philanthropy may encourage or remind others to do the same but quiet satisfaction comes from inconspicuous giving.

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