The art of everyday giving: 5 easy ways to becoming a philanthropist

2014-10-15 09:57

The term philanthropy has largely been associated with the super rich, high-net-worth individuals, foundations and corporations but seldom with the Joe Soap who has an average income. Many people feel that because they cannot give a large amount of money or time, they cannot engage in philanthropy. The word philanthropy has its roots in ancient Greek and simply means the love of humanity or mankind. For an expanded definition of philanthropy, see here.

Many of us would like to get involved with a charity or cause but we are so involved in the every bustle of life, which often is not practical to engage in a charitable endeavor. When one thinks of philanthropy, they also think that it’s like starting a second job on top of the already stressful work and personal life. However, this is so not true. Sometimes, small acts of kindness or support can make a big difference. As a business consultant, I’ve listening clients ranging from students to retired individuals; express a great desire to get involved in philanthropy but shy away because it sounds like a huge project. I’m here to tell you it’s not. Here are five really easy ways you too can become a philanthropist

Commit to a cause: Decide on a cause and commit to looking for opportunities so support campaigns or organizations that address the issue you are passionate about. You may be passionate about the environment, education, health, justice, women’s rights or hunger. For example, I am very passionate about girlhood and education. On twitter I endorse organizations that work in that field, I look for online campaigns run by organizations and donate monthly or when they have online giving campaigns. My company has adopted a nonprofit organization and will give an annual donation to the organization to continue its work.

Social media as a tool for good: Harness the power of social media by taking five minutes of your social media time to retweet, repost a blog, or share an update about something you liked/heard/saw or interesting fact about your cause. If you have time, pick two or three organizations that you will ‘adopt’ on twitter or Facebook to retweet or share posts about once a week. This helps organizations amply their message and good work if they have people also sharing their posts and work.

Nominate a cause for support: Nominate a nonprofit organization at work to be a beneficiary of your annual team building fundraiser or team building initiative. Speak to your human resources department to find out how you can do this and then do it. Look for smaller organizations to support as they often do not have access to funding and resources that more developed organizations can access. This simple act can really change an organization’s operations or services.

Build a giving network: Start by asking friends and family to also do small acts to give. Garner a giving circle where ten you can jointly donate a R100 each to a cause every month. Encourage your children, nieces and nephews to get involved in school fundraisers to support their favorite cause. Getting them involved in local yet small scale giving breeds a culture of philanthropy. By getting them used to giving as small children, they are more likely to give as adults.

Shop consciously: If you are the (un)lucky person tasked with doing the weekly household shopping, then be on the look out for products that give a certain percentage to charity and only buy those products. If you see a pack of mushrooms that donate R1 to charity vs another brand that doesn’t; then by the ones that donate to charity. It’s a very straightforward thing to do but can make a significant change to the work of those organizations. By so doing, it tells our retail sector that as consumers we encourage them to stock more socially conscious products and we’ll use our purchasing power to support those products.

If you are still at a loss and cannot be bothered to go search for a cause, then you can make a secure donation to a charity I support called Thope Foundation that provides young girls with science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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