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Too Soon Old….Too Late Smart

Aug 13, 2015 at 8:32 AM

hijacked generosity - generous connectionsGenerosity has been hijacked by organized philanthropy, and I have to admit that I’ve been part of the hijacking for many years. This is another “too soon old, too late smart” moment. It hasn’t literally been a moment, but in the last couple of years I see my world differently and more clearly. Here’s my new awareness:

Charitable giving from the most generous nation on the planet (the United States) has been stuck at 2.0% of GDP…for forty years! In addition, only one in four Americans volunteer. That means that in the last forty years, three out of four Americans don’t even volunteer one hour a year. And it seems that the only people uttering the word “philanthropy” (guilty as charged) are those giving away, seeking or writing about someone else’s money.

This sounds like I’m in a foul mood, but it really is this “too soon old too late smart” thing. I am starting to avoid using the word philanthropy to describe the world I live and work in. Of all the “philanthropists” I know, not one of them would use that word to describe what they do. What we do is generosity, plain and simple.

Responding to appeals that hold only marginal interest for us or showing up at another committee meeting to hear reports should be added to your “stop doing” list. We donors should take back the generosity territory. After all it is our connections, talents and resources being given. Get connected to your heart’s desire for change, and recognize that generosity rightly understood is done with others and not for others. Look for transforming opportunities to be generous

What do you think? Do I have this right?


Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life to discover how others have found transforming opportunities to be generous.

4 responses to “Too Soon Old….Too Late Smart”

  1. Tim Schwan says:

    This is very worthy of discussion in church and society today. Using the words generosity and philanthropy interchangeably are just the surface of both the problem and opportunity! Chris Willard once “warned” me and a group I was with that diving deep into Christ-like generosity would mess with us. It is messing with me big time. Giving money and volunteering, in my humble and evolving opinion, is the easy part of living generously as a a child of God. Imy wife and I do that reasonably well.

    Developing a generous spirit, heart and lifestyle is an all-encompassing undertaking. Grappling with generosity as the “created in the image of God, redeemed by the ultimate and extravagant sacrifice of Jesus, and called/enlightened/sanctified to live generously in the community of faith . . . thay’s what’s messing with me!

    I’m honored and humbled to be called into the struggle!(:

  2. Matthew P. says:

    Hi John, another inspiring post. Thanks!

  3. David Krill says:

    Was very surprised that only 1 out of 4 are volunteers. The rest complain I guess. Great message, thanks for this reminder.

  4. Gary Rosberg says:

    Once again, John, you stirred my gray matter….and as Chris said….messed with me. And it is a “good messing indeed”! You are on to it…and challenging all of us to rethink not only our language but that giving of our talents and time are all about being part of the community of Christ and being distinctive in caring for others. Love it…Keep going!

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