Philanthropy and I have been in the media lately:
- First out was an article in the April 2014 North and South magazine by Joanna Wane called Does money make you mean. (I am quoted on page 45, thankfully in a positive light).
- This was followed last month with Karle Du Fresne’s “And the Giver is” article in The Listener – get the official version (it will cost you $5 if you don’t already subscribe) or here is a free but not very pretty version.
Both articles are well written and well researched. The North and South article is provocative in title and tone, but makes a good point about the importance of empathy. The Listener, meanwhile, provides the most in depth analysis of philanthropy in NZ that I have yet seen in the media (despite feeling a bit awkward that I was mentioned quite a lot but the Todd Foundation hardly at all).
But where is the call to action? So you read the articles, you’re inspired to starting or increase your financial giving – what now? Let me add my thoughts:
- First, the amount you give doesn’t matter much – almost all of us can give something and it is the generosity which counts. Thinking of giving as a proportion of your income is probably more helpful than thinking about a dollar amount.
- Secondly, giving time goes hand in hand with giving money. Both are valuable; all of us can give one or the other or both.
- Thirdly, it is sometimes hard to know where to start. So many causes, so much need and such a lot of charitable organisations. This is where Philanthropy NZ’s “Feel – Think – Act” model can help:
- First up – Feel – ask yourself what matters most to you – what do you want to change?
- Then – Think – consider how you could achieve this change
- Then – Act – research options and organisations and make an informed choice
- And if in doubt, err on the side of generosity…
(There’s more detail on this at the Thoughtful Giving website, or talk to one of the wonderful staff at PNZ.)
Finally, let me answer Joanna Wane’s question – does money make you mean? The answer is no. There are mean people and generous people across the wealth spectrum – and most of us are neither – or perhaps both depending on the situation. What money does provide is an opportunity to be generous, to make the world a little bit better by sharing some of what we have. Let’s just do it.