You have heard, of course, of the rainbow with the pot of gold at its end. But, perhaps, in gift planning, the pot of gold, about one foot in diameter, and one foot deep, is at the beginning. And it gives off white light, glinting gold. This rainbow is not created by mist or rain, but by a prism, easily held in the hand of a gift planner. Through that prism, light streams, refracted into a rainbow arch across they sky, with an organization in the center, and thousands of people served at the end of that rainbow. The colors in that spectrum are "donor motivation." One color is money as money, in market terms. Another color is donor moral autobiography. Another is donor's vision, values, principles. Another is the donor's family and traditions. Another is metrics connecting money with results. Each of these colors spans the sky uniting the pot of gold with lives touched.
The pot of gold is a fairy tale, but (what is worse) the rainbow is also scriptural.
Once upon a time, long, long ago, mankind (not us, it was not our fault) failed in its stewardship of the earth, and defaced God's image, in themselves, as thumbs over time can obliterate or wear away, the emperor's face from a gold coin. The waters rose and would annihilate all life on earth, where it not for Noah, his ark, and his folly. Through him life was preserved, and without his folly none of us would be here today.
Do you know about that rainbow?
That rainbow was set above the waters as they began to recede, as a sign of hope.
Giving can be explicated as means to end, in market logic, a theory of change. And it is all that; one color is that. But giving is also a reenactment of a gracious sign or ritual, encompassing origins and ends (as Dr. Paul Schervish says, "Genesis and Telesis"), and unites us across time in an enduring community.
H. Peter Karoff speaks of the gift planner as answering a "long distance call." Without the gift planner, without the prism, no rainbow, the sign of hope.