Archive for January, 2011

HOW TO TAKE THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD GIVING

Monday, January 17th, 2011

As philanthropy and the nonprofit sector adjust to the new world of need and the new age of social activism, philanthropists are no longer defined by the depth of their pocketbook.

Rather, you become one by examining your values and finding the cause that moves you enough to dedicate money, time and skills to it.

And, in addition to being democratized by technology and first-generation wealth, philanthropy also is being transformed by the sobering realization that we’re all in this together. The divide between rich and poor is widening. Social ills are systemic and thorny. Community now is across the ocean as well as down the block.

The need for charity has never been more apparent.

To engage her kids, one philanthropist asks them to think about what makes them indignant, to think about giving to the things they get a little mad about. The individual moment that triggers long-term commitment can be just that direct.

Somewhere along the way, you decide to step forward, whether to soothe the pain of people in need, to work toward righting wrongs that make you indignant, to build an organization you deem worthy or to help fulfill a mission that presses your buttons.

Certainly, homework and planning must kick in later, when you’re figuring out how much to give and choosing among the many ways to give. But for starters, for right now, the impulse to engage, the desire to give, comes simply from the head and the heart, not from any bank account.