As you can see from Wyatt Boykin’s report above, we are halfway through the competition for new donors that Ryan Damerow, TIRF’s Chief Operating Officer, proposed as the driving strategy for this year’s mid-year appeal. The idea – as explained in the June issue of TIRF Today – is to see which of us can generate the greatest number of new donors.

As of last Friday, Ryan had me beat by a margin of almost two to one. So, of course, I was motivated to spend the weekend writing to prospective donors and begging them to contribute to the Foundation in the name of Team Bailey. The stakes are high! Ryan’s challenge included the idea that the loser would donate a portion of a paycheck to TIRF! That is no small sum for either of us, so you can imagine how serious each of us is about winning this bet!

Thinking about Ryan’s challenge made me ponder the actual meaning of competition. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term originally meant “to enter or be put in rivalry with,” from the Middle French verb, compéter. We can also cite the Latin verb, competere, “to strive in common, strive after something in company with or together,” and “to meet or come together; agree or coincide; to be qualified.”

Hmm. These explanations seem to emphasize a collaborative possibility in competition, and that is certainly the case in team sports. In this situation, Ryan and I are competing as individuals, but there is definitely an element of collaboration and cooperation involved.

The same online dictionary defines cooperation as “the act of working together to one end,” again from Middle French, or Latin, “a working together.”

So, here’s how I look at this competition now: Ryan’s challenge has gotten me to focus on the Foundation’s stakeholders and to pose two questions: Who might be benefitting from the work of TIRF who is not yet a donor? And keeping in mind that language education is not a very highly paid profession, who among our stakeholders might be in a position to contribute to TIRF? The answers to those two questions has led me to search my email address list and reach out to friends and colleagues around the globe, in hopes of locating new donors.

We will announce the winner of this competition in the August issue of TIRF Today. But now I have two questions for you: First, wouldn’t it be wonderful, in keeping with the theme of 20-20 vision (introduced in last month’s Chair’s Report), if Ryan and I could both generate twenty new donors for TIRF? And second, if you are not yet a donor, won’t you consider becoming one now?? Whether you sign up for Team Damerow or Team Bailey in making a gift to TIRF, I would be very grateful for your support!

Best wishes,