Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing reviews of books that inspire me in the hopes they will inspire you too. Happy reading! Experts say that the best way to teach a lesson is to tell a story. Indeed, through the ages fables have enriched our lives by their moral lessons. How can we forget fables such as Aesop’s The Tortoise and Hare or The Ant and the Grasshopper! Short, Profound Modern Tale In the 21st Century, fables continue to be life-changing for those who choose to read them. And this is certainly true in the field of Philanthropic Leadership. One such modern tale is the short yet profound book, The Art of Influence by Chris Widener. In a [...]
Do you ever find yourself tongue-tied when anyone asks you “Why do you support this organization?” How do you answer? Or better yet, do you even have a specific answer? Quite often I like to ask a donor this question and all too frequently there is an uncomfortable silence. Following a thoughtful pause, the donor answers with something like, “Well, my neighbor asked me to get involved,” or “Gee, I’m not sure, my family has always made an annual contribution” or “Hmmm, I ‘m not really sure, I just like the organization.” Creating your own philanthropic mission statement or mantra can help you answer with confidence! Focus Your Giving There is no doubt that today there is more and more [...]
In recent years it has become evident that philanthropy is not a commodity. It's not defined by market supply and demand, but rather the result of a donor’s personal journey driven by values and beliefs. So, who defines philanthropic success? And, if one subscribes to the axiom that success is in the eye of the beholder, then the question becomes, who is the beholder? Who has the primary responsibility of defining success and determining the metrics with which to establish what success means? the philanthropist who gives?the organization that accepts?the beneficiary who receives? Perhaps there's a strong case to be made that the duty to define success falls squarely on the philanthropist who gives. Currently there is a significant dialogue [...]
It’s that time again. With each New Year come new resolutions. And in these unprecedented times of lockdowns and lay-offs we all are revisiting and revising our priorities. Here are a couple of techniques here to help you revitalize your priorities and values. Examine Your Priorities and Values As we look toward the dawning of a new year, now is the time to examine our priorities as well as our resources and get back in touch with the values that shape our thoughts and drive our decisions. This process is not linear but rather incremental. Bring clarity to the process in four stages: Stage one: Affirm and discover your core values. Stage two: Align your values with the people and [...]
Unless you are in the nonprofit profession, starting a philanthropic conversation is tough. Most people seldom bring up the topic of philanthropy in private or public discourse. One could surmise that it is either taboo or just awkward to know how to start a dialogue about giving. No matter what you call it, charity, giving, or philanthropy, the topic certainly is not in the mainstream of most discussions among friends or family members. Changing the Course of the Dialogue Perhaps many consider talking about issues and causes that pain the heart and prod open the checkbook as boasting, prying, or self-interest? And if so, how can we change the course of conversation to include meaningful discussions about charity, giving and [...]
Women have become hyper-agents for the greater good through their philanthropic endeavors. Philanthropy offers women a platform for expressing their values and valuables through the feminine strengths of caring, collaboration and consensus building in our dysfunctional society. Their financial independence gives them the freedom and ability to impact social, civic, and cultural agendas in their community. Women's Values & Strengths Philanthropy offers women a platform for their philanthropy for two specific reasons: 1) The political and corporate sectors have yet to fully recognize the extraordinary value of these feminine strengths. 2) Women’s attitudes regarding the accumulation and use of money differ from those of men. For men, the accumulation of money is the goal – it defines status and power. [...]
Current polarized political rhetoric and hype has us all on edge. Indeed, it has many of us tuning out altogether, just when our nation needs to unite in purpose for the greater good of all humanity. Significant historians believe our nation is experiencing the “winter of our discontent” with hope of an imminent spring rebirth faint on the horizon. Fundamental Virtues and Values Philanthropy in America continues to be a pace setter in directing our nation back to “true north” and to the fundamental virtues and values that made America strong and united in community. Alexis de Tocqueville first identified the “spirit of self-interest rightly understood” in his historic saga, Democracy in America. It depicted Americans’ unique role in building [...]
Q: What is the Women's Funding Network? A: The Women's Funding Network celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2014. The network of funds was originally started by a group of 20 leaders who believed that philanthropy and social changes needed to recognize and include women and girls issues. The WFN is now a network of more than 160 Women's Funds in 30 countries. Today, the Women's Funding Network is the largest philanthropic network in the world devoted to improving the lives of women and girls. For more information, visit www.womensfundingnetwork.org.
Bookmark: Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni Cofounder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, author P.M. Forni reminds us, "Just about the most important thing we do in life is interacting with other human beings." Not only does he remind us how important such interaction is, but also how far we have strayed in our everyday lives from being civil and polite in all we do. With a gentle reminder that "All we have to do is stop, think about it, and then act," Forni provides the reader with a step-by-step guide to rediscovering good and sensible manners for a more stress-free and enjoyable life. This gem of a book is a must read. [...]
From talking with professional tax and legal advisors, there seems to be a plethora of well- informed and knowledgeable advisors who advocate “cart before the horse” philanthropy to their clients. Such philanthropic advice comes in several varieties, and most often begins with “How.” Perhaps the advisor asks, “How much do you want to save in taxes?” or “How would you like to avoid capital gains on your sale of appreciated securities?” or “How much do you want to leave to your favorite charity?” Yes, in the right context, these questions are certainly valid, but when asked in regard to philanthropic matters, they tend to place the “cart before the horse.” For an advisor to engage a client in meaningful dialogue [...]
Bookmark: The Generosity Network by Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey C. Walker with Karl Weber The Generosity Network weaves a web of generosity and collaboration, which is a win-win for everyone and every cause -- from local to global. The authors' ability to define and humanize the relationship building process that can move a person from transactional to transformational philanthropy makes this a must-read for donors, funders, nonprofit executive and fundraisers. This book gives insight into how our personal attitudes about money and giving may inhibit our generosity. It also provides realistic insight and the road map to be the philanthropist we can be and how to turn dreams into reality and results. If you want to tell a compelling [...]
Q: How do you define eudaimonia? A: Eudaimonia is the Greek word used by philosophers that translates to "well-being of the soul." According to Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics, the wellbeing of the soul is achieved through arête, defined as living in excellence and virtue. He identifies the moral virtues as prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. A virtuous life according to Aristotle is a balanced life with neither too much nor too little of each virtue.
In today’s technological age, I believe it is very easy to get caught up in the over analysis of the reasons people give. In recent decades there has been significant research and writings on what motivates donors to do what they do and why. Elizabeth Svoboda’s August 2013 Wall Street Journal article, “Hard-Wired for Giving,” shows some scientific evidence behind giving. She reports that experiments in 2007 by University of Oregon economist Dr. Bill Harbaugh and psychologist Ulrich Mayr used an MRI scanner to pinpoint exactly what goes on in a person’s brain when they decide to give to charity. Results showed that “areas of the brain associated with the processing of unexpected rewards, such as the nucleus accumbens lit up. [...]
Make no mistake there’s been a quiet transformation of leadership in the philanthropic community. Perhaps you missed its subtle arrival. It’s not the flamboyant style of the mighty tycoons of the past, driven by ego; but rather it’s an elegant and fashionable movement driven by sensibility and purpose. Ladies who lead are making waves for the greater good by living authentic lives fostering the ideals of creativity, collaboration, and giving both time and money. Ladies who lead are using “time tested ‘women’s ways’ of leading, (that) have become the gold standard for great leaders of both genders, and the building blocks for success in today’s global economy,” writes Martha Mayhood Mertz in Becoming ATHENA: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership. What’s good [...]
Q: Are there websites with information on how to volunteer? A: Absolutely. In addition to contacting your local United Way or Community Foundation. These sites offer some wonderful volunteer resources. visit www.networkforgood.org, www.volunteermatch.org, www.pointsoflight.org and www.encore.org.
In this topsy-turvy world, who among us has the luxury to sit down in a quiet place and think about the life we want to live? Author P. M. Forni makes an extremely compelling case as to why we must find the time to make an earnest self-examination of the important things in our life. Why? Because, "If life is valuable," says Forni, "it only makes sense to attend to it constantly." And giving attention to the present moment is one way to seek relief from the frenzy and inefficient acts of multi-tasking that seem to be today's norm. In 12 short chapters, the author packs a lot of solid advice and reflective questions to put the reader on a [...]
If one subscribes to the axiom that success is in the “eye of the beholder,” then the question becomes, “Who is the beholder?” Is it the philanthropist who gives? Is it the organization that accepts? Is it the beneficiary who receives? Who has the primary responsibility of defining success and determining the metrics with which to define what success means? If one maintains that philanthropy is not a commodity defined by market supply and demand but rather the result of a personal journey driven by values and beliefs, then perhaps to a great extent, the responsibility of defining success falls squarely on the philanthropist who gives. There is a significant and responsible discussion taking place in the nonprofit profession as [...]
Bookmark: Everyone Wants Your Money: Helping You Navigate Through Philanthropy by Dr. Gray Keller From the title, you may expect the message in this book to be most appropriate for donors. And while that may be Dr. Gray Keller's intent, I believe his wisdom, practical advice and stories speak directly to the heart of every development and fundraising professional. Dr. Keller is a philosopher, poet, and philanthropist with degrees in philosophy, theology and leadership. His trifecta of experiences challenge both donors and gift planners to reflect on who we are, what we do, why we do it, and how to be a strategic philanthropic leader. "As a philanthropic leader," writes Keller, "You will have to decide to give in [...]
Q: Is there a resource for children's gifts and books to learn about giving? A: Yes. The National Center for Family Philanthropy has an excellent website, www.ncfp.org. I encourage you to visit the site for both children and adult resources. Correction to last month's "Ask Margaret" book recommendation: Shel Silverstein (not Shel Silverman) is the author of The Giving Tree. Thank you, Lori E. Gold, for bringing this to our attention.
Women are the greatest economy on earth. Philanthropy offers women a platform for their abundance for two specific reasons: 1) The political and corporate sectors have yet to fully recognize the extraordinary value feminine strengths of caring, collaboration, connecting, and consensus building bring to our dysfunctional society. 2) Women’s attitudes regarding the accumulation and use of money are different from those of men. For men, the accumulation of money is the goal – it defines status and power. For women the accumulation of money is a means to an end – it gives women the freedom and the ability to impact society and support the causes that make their hearts sing. Yet, I believe, women’s full potential for abundant philanthropic [...]