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I am all about thinking differently. My goal is to flip the script on philanthropy as a way to unleash the human spirit to do more good in the world. In fact, I believe that by thinking differently and creatively about philanthropy we can make an impact. We need to respond with meaning, structure, and purpose and help those who are less fortunate.

How Donor Philanthropy Is Different

As stated in previous blogs, I want to change today’s societal perception of philanthropy, as portrayed by the media and major institutions, that philanthropy is only the realm of “big”—big money, big institutions, and big grandiose, global solutions.

This big thinking may be labeled as very noble, important, and meaningful, but it no way reflects the heart and soul of the common man, the little guy, who does not have—nor ever will attain—great fortune or fame. But it is in the little guy’s DNA to give. So many psychologists, such as Erikson, Maslow, and the Swedish sociologist Tornstam, explain how we all have a deep desire to give to something greater than self, whether that be our family, friends, neighbors, community, or nation.

Grassroots and Donor Focused

So, in this context, let me introduce you to the idea of "donor philanthropy." Donor philanthropy is a new, upside-down way of looking at philanthropy that originates from the individual. It is based on the gifts we each give to the needs of others as well as the grassroots, community-based needs in our hometowns.

Donor philanthropy, as opposed to traditional philanthropy, is bottom-up, not top-down. It is the little guy—each of us—doing what we can in our own spheres of influence. We are each a philanthropist with a giving heart. Giving is part of who we are because giving is embedded in our DNA. It is not about big institutions and big money. It is about each individual learning to achieve meaning and purpose in life and a willing engagement to do good for those around us.

The 7 Beliefs of Donor Philanthropy

So, let me lay out the seven basic beliefs of this movement called Donor Philanthropy.

1. Donor philanthropy is about the individual; and thus is donor-focused. It is about you and me and everyone else. It recognizes and emphasizes our inherent goodness and the gifts that we each carry with us, many of which we don't even realize we possess.

2. Donor philanthropy is grassroots. Giving comes from the depths of our soul. Giving is important to our well-being; as so many of the physical needs are to us, such as food, air, and water. To give to something greater than self brings meaning and purpose to life.

3. Donor philanthropy is about unleashing each individual’s four (4) gifts. Each individual carries with them their four gifts to do good in this world. And, like many things in life, the giving heart with a giving spirit needs to be recognized, awakened and shown how to use gifts for good.

4. Donor philanthropy is appreciative, life-giving, and strengths-based. We all like to be valued, appreciated, and gain meaning from our lives by utilizing our unique individual experience, talents, and other resources for the benefit of others or causes greater than self.

5. Donor philanthropy recognizes the value of individual diversity and inclusion. With the appreciation of each individual’s uniqueness, strengths, and with an aligned mission for good, the power of group diversity and stakeholder inclusion can be unleashed for the common good.

6. Donor philanthropy requires servant leadership. Whether it be the individual or a diverse and inclusive group of stakeholders working towards a common goal, leaders must be selfless and serve others by unleashing their individual goodness and gifts for giving.

7. Donor philanthropy can leverage technology to magnify impact. The unleashing of each individual’s human potential through technology will result in socially innovative solutions to societal challenges.

There you go! These are the seven beliefs by which donor philanthropy equips you to change your part of the world.

Stay tuned! We will cover these 7 core beliefs in more detail in future blogs.

Let’s Do Some Good!


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©2020 Aspire to Give®. All Rights Reserved. Greg Doepke is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® and a Certified Financial Planner®. Greg serves on the Board of Directors for the International Association for Advisors in Philanthropy and as the Philanthropist in Residence at Auburn University’s Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. As the founder of Aspire to Give® Greg educates and equips individuals, families, business owners, and foundations with both traditional and leading-edge philanthropic tools and techniques for smart, meaningful, and impactful giving. You can contact Greg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Start Your Learning Journey Today

If you would like to explore how to accelerate philanthropic impact through education, collaboration, and advocacy, schedule a phone call with Greg here.

Disclosure: Greg Doepke is the founder and principal of Aspire to Give®, a social enterprise that donates 100% of profits to charity.
The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are not representative of the views of ACG Advisory Services, Inc. or the Actuarial Consulting Group, Inc. of Midlothian, Virginia. Each client and prospective client agrees, as a condition of precedent to his/her/its access to Aspire to Give®’s website to release and hold harmless ACG Advisory Services, Inc. and Actuarial Consulting Group, Inc., their officers, directors, owners, employees, and agents from any and all adverse consequences resulting from any of his/her/its actions and/or omissions which are independent of his/her/its receipt of personalized advice from Aspire to Give® or Gregory W. Doepke.