Once upon a time (about 39 years ago), I became a Mensa member. What I didn’t know then is that this seemingly minor decision would be a life-changing experience.
In time, I attended my first Mensa event. On the way home, my mind was buzzing — thinking, processing, pondering — unlike it had after any other social event I had ever attended. I finally realized why I didn’t “fit” at times. It wasn’t that I was under-tall, or how I dressed, or how I looked. My “problem” was that I was intelligent … and I thought a lot.
A step at a time, I explored this world of Mensa I had entered. At first, it was the stimulus of talking with my intellectual peers. Then, as a late-blooming university student, I had plenty of intellectual stimulation … sometimes more than I wanted in one dose. At that point, the social aspects of Mensa became more intriguing.
As I explored further, I backed into opportunities that led to leadership roles. Somewhere during the leadership adventure, I decided to learn a bit more about what then was referred to as “MERF” (the Mensa Education & Research Foundation). Although I knew that annually $1 of my dues went to this organization, I didn’t really know much about it. When I saw that the new National Office building in Arlington, Texas, would be dedicated on the same weekend as a Foundation meeting, I chose to attend both events.
That was my first exposure to another element of Mensa — one where people enjoyed working to benefit gifted youth and students as well as fostering intelligence in everyone.
Now, as the President of the Mensa Foundation Board of Trustees, it’s clear that I liked what I learned, and I wanted to be part of this group whose mission is to “benefit society by inspiring and empowering intellectually gifted people.”
The Foundation continues on the path its founders embarked on 46 years ago. Current key program areas include scholarships, awards and recognition, education, and outreach. Each of these began at some point with baby steps. With vision, work, and donations over the years, the once-fledgling programs and new programs are robust and growing.
As one example, the MensaForKids website was a new initiative 10 years ago; it has grown, been revamped, and is being accessed from all around the world, especially in those countries where gifted youth resources are not readily available. Scholarships have also grown. This year, about $134,000 in scholarships will be awarded (up from about $94,000 last year), including five international scholarships. Peruse our annual report for a glimpse of other achievements from the past year.
Moving forward, we have so many opportunities to continue enhancing and growing programs, adding new ones, and broadening their impact. Not surprisingly, there are more great ideas than we are able to do. That is why we have been revisiting our strategic plan so that we can prioritize short- and long-term projects that achieve our strategic goals.
Another key component will be ensuring that funding is available to achieve those goals and make a difference. We want to ensure that what we do is sustainable, so we are stepping up our efforts in fundraising. As you’ll see in this report, a Director of Philanthropy has been added to the National Office staff. His role is to serve the Mensa Foundation in development.
You can also be part of the legacy. After all, this is your Foundation and a good opportunity to impact the lives of people like yourself. No donation is ever too small … or too large. Together, we make a difference.