Kathleen and I were teaching recently at a media conference in Madrid, Spain. During the trip we visited the legendary Prado Museum in downtown Madrid. Walking through the galleries we stumbled upon a remarkable painting from 1640 called “The Crucified Christ with a Donor,” by Francisco de Zurbarán. It was such a glaring and humorous example of how financial donors have been so great and also so terrible for artistic, nonprofit, and humanitarian work over the centuries.
While some donors simply want to help make an impact, countless others are more focused on what’s in it for them. They want a building named after them, special events to honor their giving, and in perhaps this – the greatest and most outrageous of all – to actually be painted into a crucifixion scene with Christ himself.
Kathleen and I stood there in the gallery laughing at the audacity of this donor – and only later realized that there are other similar paintings done by Bosch, El Greco and probably others as well.
Please give to worthy causes. But whatever you do, don’t let your ego get in the way of the wonderful good your donation can accomplish.
I’d love to hear if you’ve experienced any outrageous requests (or strings) from potential donors….