Lili – April 17, 2017
So, when I said I had volunteered to do a little fundraising for The Danish Home, that may have been an understatement. As usual, I got a little carried away, and now, in addition to selling tables for all the fabulous events celebrating the Danish Home’s 125th anniversary this year, I’m also meant to be thinking up creative ways to raise money on an ongoing basis. Women and philanthropy go hand in hand at The Danish Home, so it must be in my blood.
Brad, who some would call my long suffering husband, says it’s typical Lili. “When I told you to find something to fire your passion, I was hoping it might be a job,” he said. “But instead of bringing in an income to finance your shoe addiction, you’d rather be raising money for someone else!”
“It’s not an addiction!” I retorted, craftily pushing a box of cute peep toe pumps under our bed (shoes that I’m planning to wear to the Women’s Auxiliary’s Kick-Off Luncheon on April 22, I might add!). “I don’t have time to work. I’ve got the girls to look after. It’s hard work raising two teenagers, plus The Danish Home is such a worthwhile cause! It makes me feel closer to my great, great grandmother, Margrethe. She was a very successful philanthropist who helped found The Danish Home.”
“I know that,” snapped Brad. “But you also told me she was married to a prosperous Chicago businessman. You’re not.”
“You are a successful businessman, although maybe not quite in the same league,” I admitted. “I’m sure Margrethe worked super hard to raise money.”
All of this got me to thinking what it might have been like to raise funds back in late 19th century, particularly among the Danish. In typical philanthropic fashion, The Danish Home has its own foundation, plus you can also list the home as your favorite charity on Amazon Smile, which is absolutely amazing, because you can donate while shopping. What’s not to like?
Apparently in the 1800s, women’s philanthropy began as volunteering, which so many of us still do. It’s awesome to be able to devote your time, even if you don’t have spare cash. Luckily, Brad takes very good care of us and does support a lot of charitable organizations, although The Danish Home is my personal favorite because of my heritage. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll end up living there myself, looking forward to weekly visits from my daughters, Anna and Olivia, with their children.
Women like Margrethe also devoted a lot of time helping war widows and their families. Historically, women’s giving was tied to their husbands’ or family’s wealth and was all about “charity” and meeting the needs of the “less fortunate.” That has changed in recent years, however, as women have become more independently wealthy and can commit not only their hands-on help to worthy causes, but their own financial resources too.
The downside to that might be that in older times, married women were discouraged from working outside the home, so they didn’t have to put up with their husbands telling them to go find a job!