Generosity 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.