By Paul R. Pace
As someone who ran a large organization when he was dean at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, says he knows the need for unanticipated expenditures that may not be very large but are timely and important.
“Discretionary funding to support leadership can help make an organization run more smoothly and have a greater scale of accomplishment,” Barth says of one of the reasons he donates to the NASW Foundation.
In fact, he has donated to several NASW Foundation funds, including the NASW Social Work Pioneers® program, Memorial and Tribute Fund, Annual Fund, and Social Work Public Education.
“Another part of my giving has been to recognize people who make exceptional efforts in their roles,” says Barth, PhD, MSW, professor and chair of the executive committee of the Grand Challenges for Social Work at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
“For example, in the last year, I have donated to thank Sarah Butts (director of Public Policy at NASW) for helping me with my policy course for my students,” he says. “She went above and beyond by taking time to come speak with our graduate students. She gave great remarks that may well inspire a turn toward policymaking by an MSW student.”
Barth said he also wanted to acknowledge former NASW CEO Angelo McClain’s tenure at NASW.
“I think he was very instrumental in making some difficult changes at NASW and has also been inspirational to me and many (others). Angelo spoke to our graduating class online during the COVID-19 restrictions. It was our first online graduation in our school’s history. It really made a difference to have Angelo bring his energy, insight and experience. I also appreciated the other ways he contributed to the profession and the work that I have been doing on the Grand Challenges for Social Work. Those are things I thought were important to recognize.”
Barth notes foundations are vital for professional associations because endowments help fund long-range projects. Over the long term, if you want to support the profession, this is the place to do it, he said. “NASW is committed to the heart and soul of the profession and is absolutely essential to its greater success and to strengthening society.”
It is not uncommon for social workers to donate back to their alma mater, says NASW Foundation donor Tamara Harris, MBA, MSW, who supports the NASW Foundation’s Verne LaMarr Lyons MSW Scholarships program through the Tamara L Harris Foundation. The Lyons program supports master’s degree candidates in social work who demonstrate an interest in health/mental health practice and a commitment to working in African American communities.
If a social worker desires to have a larger impact, donating to the NASW Foundation’s social work student scholarships program opens the opportunity to support those students across the country, Harris says. “For me, it was important to touch students that were typically going to be first generation in their families to attend a master’s level program, that this money could be impactful for them remaining in school.”
Professional organizations like NASW represent the discipline. However, an association has to consider different entities when they want to extend their impact beyond their professional body of work, Harris notes.
“I believe it makes sense for associations to have foundations because when you want to move into advocacy before (members) become professionals, you have to touch people in the education space,” she says. It’s crucial for associations like NASW to have a foundation where a person can impact people earlier in their career pipeline.
For social workers who are unable to give financially to the Foundation, there are other ways to help. “Maybe you cannot give but could your church give?” Harris says. “Do you know a donor at your nonprofit (where) you work? Perhaps you could introduce them to the foundation and maybe they could make a gift. Your currency does not always have to be financial. It could be connections. That could be your gift.”
The Next Generation
For social worker Richard Woodrow, DSW, donating to the NASW Foundation equates to supporting the profession’s legacy.
“It’s about raising the next generation of leaders,” says Woodrow, who became an NASW Social Work Pioneer® in 2021. He donates to the Foundation’s Pioneer Program.
“I felt that it was important for me to give back in the way (the NASW Foundation) honored me,” says Woodrow, who started the Department of Organization Development and Learning at the NYU Medical Center. He retired 11 years ago but continues with the organization as an adviser.
Woodrow is familiar with professional associations as he was president of the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care.
“It is very clear to me that we—our generation—has to support and nurture and make it possible for the flourishing of the next generation,” he says. “To me, that’s really what the foundation means.”
The donations and generosity of people who are moving on with their lives and who can afford to support foundations are essential to a professional association’s growth, Woodrow says.
“The reason a foundation is so useful is it is often targeted to something like the Pioneers program or the connections with universities; it is not connected to the general fund,” he says. “If you have a particular area you are interested in, you can donate your money to that area. I think it is part of our professional responsibility (to give back). I don’t think we can go forward as an organization without (donations).”
To donate or learn more about the NASW Foundation, visit NASWFoundation.org.