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Virtual Friendship Gets Real Through Philanthropy

Louise Knauer
Community Foundation of the Ozarks
KSMU's Mike Smith in the studio with Wendy Steele and Michael Chatman

Making a Difference; Stories of Hope and Help, is produced by Mike Smith on KSMU, with support from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

Wendy Steele is Chief Executive of Generosity Matters, a professional consultancy working with clients on how to live a more generous life.  Steele also created Impact 100, which pools the resources of at least 100 women, and sometimes men, to make a transformational grant. 

Michael Chatman is Senior Vice President of Philanthropy at the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and works directly with the CFO Affiliate Foundations across southern Missouri.  Chatman’s weekly Twitter talk show #WHYIGIVE, has close to 400,000 followers. 

Chatman and Steele have known each other for years through social media and  philanthropy circles, but met face to face for the very first time when Steele came to Springfield in April to address the Community Foundation of the Ozarks 2016 Affiliate Conference:

Michael Chatman:  “Wendy I remember the first time we made contact through social media.  I was doing research on who would be the Nation’s top thought leaders and experts on philanthropy, and every time I put together my list, your name would be on it. I remember the first time I reached out to you through social media to say Congratulations, You’ve Become One of the Top 25 Experts on Philanthropy, According to the Michael Chatman Giving Show, and that started a relationship between the two of us via social media, so much so that people who meet us for the very first time think we’ve been friends forever.  And so to be able to put a name with a face, to meet someone who thinks like you do within the space of generosity, I’ve always felt a sense of kindred spirit between the two of us because we’re both advocates for the field of generosity and philanthropy.”

Wendy Steele:  “Exactly, and likewise.  And in a lot of ways it feels like we’ve been friends forever. One of the amazing things about social media is although we’ve not met face to face until this week, during the years we’ve had exchanges and come to know each other, you really do get to know a person.  So meeting you in person and coming together like this, there are no surprises.  This is the same Michael Chatman I follow on social media.  This is the same Michael Chatman I learn from on Twitter.  This is the same Michael Chatman who’s kind and generous with his on-line persona.  In real life you’re exactly the same.  When you believe the same things and operate the same way, there is sort of a heart-connection.  Spending time with me you know I’m not afraid to say things like I Love You, and I hug people, because I believe that whole-heartedly and sincerely.  I think when you get to know someone at a heart level, at a value level, you can’t help but feel that connection, which is a total bonus. So coming together these last few days as we have, it’s been terrific to see that confirmed.”

Michael Chatman:  “In the home of Terry Hedgpeth last night, when I took you to Ozark to speak for the Impact 100 group to the Finley River Community Foundation, Jackie Barger and Margie Beadles and all the people there, when you walked in the room, because I had shown your video so many times, and took them to your web site and talked a lot about Impact 100,everybody felt like they knew you.”

Wendy Steele:  “Although I didn’t have the same benefit, I felt welcomed like a friend, like a part of the family.  The women and men last night and today at the conference, I think they understood my perspective and where I was coming from.  But they too were so welcoming and warm and friendly that we too sort of cut to the chase of developing rapport.  The energy in that amazing home was infectious.  People were excited and ready to something big for that community, and they’re doing it.  It’s amazing.”

Michael Chatman:  “Even (CFO’S) Matt Lemmon’s mom came up to me and said You Tell My Son Matt That I’m All In, I’m All In.  And it was that level of excitement that transferred over the affiliate conference.”

Wendy Steele:  “The common denominator is people who are putting their community above themselves.  Who are working and living every day trying to make this region better than the way they found it.  That is a very special quality, and I’m grateful to CFO to be invited here to meet so many key players in the organization.  Now I’m excited to see what happens next.  It’s been an exciting visit, but I truly believe this is just the first chapter of what I think will unfold to be a very interesting book”

Michael Chatman:  “Excellent, well said!”  

For information on philanthropy in the Ozarks and across southern Missouri, through The Community Foundation of the Ozarks,

For information about Generosity Matters,

Mike Smith's career at KSMU began in 1980 as a student announcer when the former Navy Submariner attended (then) SMSU with help from the GI Bill. In 1982 Smith became a full time member of the KSMU family as "Chief Announcer", responsible for the acquisition, training and scheduling of the student announcing staff. It was also in 1982 when Smith first produced "Seldom Heard Music" a broadcast of Bluegrass which is still heard on KSMU and every Saturday night at 7CT.