Philanthropy is more than an act of giving, it’s to encourage change. Whether personal or professional, philanthropic pursuits can be equally beneficial for the performer and the recipient. The field of philanthropy is dominated by professional companies looking to aid worthy causes, but how do you choose which to support? What is the best way to get the most out of your generous efforts?
When preparing to take on a philanthropic endeavor, it’s best to examine it from two different perspectives. First, examine what you’d like to do through a personal lense. Giving yourself to a cause is an intensely personal, and oftentimes emotionally taxing investiture of your time and money. Before dedicating yourself to such a task, don’t be afraid to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Not to devalue any philanthropic effort, but there is only so much time in our lives, and if you’re choosing to dedicate a portion of yourself to a cause, it’s necessary to fully support your subject.
The second perspective to examine is the external. While you are committing yourself to a charitable act, philanthropy does come with it’s share of benefits or returns. If a company pledges to dedicate a portion of proceeds to a charitable cause, it does so with the hope of calling attention to its brand. A mutually beneficial exercise in public relations, a chosen charitable group receives much needed aid, and a business entity receives positive attention from the public. By considering both perspectives, you can better utilize your philanthropic efforts, and assert change where it’s most necessary.
Whether for business or pleasure, when developing your philanthropic strategy, it’s best to engage others. If you’re preparing to launch a personal campaign, ask the family what they think, and be certain not to overlook conflicting opinions. In business, engage shareholders and employees. Utilize outreach programs and use your company as a platform to address community leaders. By opening yourself to opinion, you significantly increase the probability of garnering support from outside sources.
Focus your efforts rather than spread yourself thin. Many companies feel it’s best to use their massive wealth over a wide area, limiting the amount of funding any one charity is able to receive. If you’re looking to affect real change, focusing efforts into one area will better serve your dollar and their cause. Researching your intended charity is also necessary. Too often good causes are championed by those looking to profit off the pain of others. Large sums of your donation could be shunted to sources not of your choosing, and the only way to prevent that is exhaustive research into your intended recipient.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to dig deep. Too many charitable donations come posthumously, denying the generous benefactor the satisfaction of providing for those in need. Consult your financial advisor, whether professional or personal, and assess how much you can do to help. The act of giving is like working a muscle. At first, the concept seems strange and foreign, but with time you begin to feel the benefits of charitable work.
For more philanthropy ideas and the philosophy behind them – check out this article published by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.