Musings on Philanthropy as a Way of Being and Professional Action


By Susan Caverly, PhD, ARNP, BC
Lois Price Spratlen Foundation Co-President

Philanthropy can seem for many of us a bit of a foreign concept, something that conjures up images of the actions of those who are privileged. So, what then of the rest of us? Is it possible that we too might be philanthropists?

As we are asked to write a donation check or volunteer for a committee, it seems likely that the term philanthropy does not usually come to mind. The actions are not always recognized as participation in philanthropic opportunity.

During the past several years, helping to grow the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation has caused me to reflect on philanthropy. It has caused me to consider my shift from a modest donor to a true stakeholder with a deepened connection, embracing the intention—the mission—of the foundation.

Lois, our namesake, viewed advanced practice psychiatric nursing through a community lens.

For me, this has been a journey, and today, this moment, this year, I invite you to become a fellow traveler. I invite you to exercise full participation and, in the process, define for yourself what it means to be philanthropic.

The Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses has for many years funded small scholarships for our next generation of clinicians. The inception of the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation formalized this commitment and, through fundraising, annual Gala Luncheons, and donor appreciation events, has grown the annual small scholarship to multiple $2,000 scholarships as well as an innovative practice grant.

It is worth noting that Lois, our namesake, viewed advanced practice psychiatric nursing through a community lens. She recognized the community strength that is created through empowering others.

Education is without question a means of empowerment, while recognition and reward for professional excellence empowers the profession.

The Lois Price Spratlen Foundation provides those of us who engage with a way to support these empowerment agendas in ways we would not be capable of doing as individuals. Our foundation is our community and our strength is in our collective accomplishment. It is without question that I have a pride in my own association with this community.

Our challenge is that, rather than accepting philanthropy as a financial transaction or an obligation, we embrace it as a path to the fulfilling experience of participatory ownership in the empowerment of our profession, one scholar at a time.

My hope is that each of us connect as stewards of the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation, to own the foundation intentions, and to join the efforts to grow the foundation. In this way we will build the infrastructure and financial strength essential to sustain the work—in “perpetuity”—as Lois would have wished.

As we philanthropists grow in numbers, we grow our community of philanthropy! Will you join us?