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.
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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