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Do you believe in what we do? Do you know what we do?

Michael B. Donner, PhD

For well over a decade, SFCP has been trying to develop a spirit of giving within the organization. Outside of our very successful Capital Campaign and a small number of stalwart contributors, our efforts have been disappointing. I have been talking to some of our members about their vision for SFCP and the potential impediments to raising funds both within our membership and raising funds from foundations and business. Some of the responses I received were predictable, others surprising, while a few were downright disconcerting.

A common refrain was that people were feeling tapped out. Our dues seem high, and with dues to APsaA and licensing fees, some members felt like they had little more to give. Although unfortunate, this seemed understandable. Sometimes these members thought that we should be able to make do with what we have. They were aware that we have an endowment, that in addition to dues, many teach and serve on committees, so feel they have given enough already.

However, others expressed a surprising and troubling sentiment. These were people who seemed to think that we have to offer is not particularly valuable. Many thought that what we do would be of little interest to foundations or corporations. These members suggested that we are essentially an elitist organization providing an esoteric service. A surprising number still see us as an “Institute," whose mission is to train psychoanalysts. While this is still perceived as valuable, some of our members don't see how this could translate into SFCP's being an organization that could offer something to the larger community.

There are a few points I would like to make in response to these comments. The first, and most important, is that without raising additional funds, SFCP will no longer be able to do what we are doing now, never mind grow. We are starting to reach the limits of how much revenue we can generate and how we are going to be able to sustain and support the programs we already have. As our staff turns over, new hires are coming in at increasingly higher salaries. SFCP needs to be able to compete for staff members who can help us in our ever more complicated environment--this is also key to our survival. Our current staff does this and more, and we need to continue to support them.

Although this is worrisome from a budget and finance perspective, the other issues are ultimately more meaningful to me. From my perspective, training the next generation of psychoanalysts may in fact be the smallest piece of what we do. SFCP is teaching far more social workers, students and psychoanalytic psychotherapists in our CCSW, Child and Adult PPTPs and extension programs than in our candidate curriculum.

Although our candidates are the future psychoanalysts, the future of psychoanalysis is in all of those people who take our courses and return to their communities who will sustain psychoanalysis and allow psychoanalytic ideas and ideals to remain vibrant and meaningful. As I have said on other occasions, there are hundreds if not thousands of clinicians in classrooms, community clinics, pre-school programs, hospitals and private practice who have become better, more effective clinicians because of the education they received from SFCP faculty.

Although we charge modest fees for our programs, ALL of our faculty are volunteers. ALL of our committee members, chairs, leadership are give their time and receive no compensation. SFCP trains the community, but outside of our dues, for the most part gets nothing back. Even some of our members think outside organizations are more deserving than we are.

If you believe in what we do, if you know what we do, then we need you to give. Consider an annual gift, or a monthly sustaining contribution. We need you out in the community, speaking to friends and colleagues about our mission, our goal to train the professionals in our community, and be willing to help us when we ask them to support and sustain the training we provide to the community.

Schools like Stanford and UCSF that charge tens of thousands of dollars are proud of what they do, and despite the enormous costs they charge to educate, they are constantly reaching out to the community and to their alumni, asking for more money. We need to be able to do the same. We need to be proud of who we are, proud of our accomplishments, and make sure we can sustain ourselves and continue to grow for the next 75 years.

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San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis

444 Natoma Street
San Francisco, CA 94103


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(415) 857-7596
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