Listen with your heart

The greatest gift is the gift of listening. Not only do the ears need to be engaged and the mind alert -- the gift of listening demands much more. It requires an open and abundant heart. In this frenzied, multitasking, sound-byte society, being an active listener is perhaps one of the hardest skills to acquire and to do well. How do we know that we really hear what someone is saying? Can we take the time to shut out our self-centered thoughts and calm the urge to fill the silence with an instant response? Are we respectful of the hopes, fears and desires expressed by others? Can we find ways to convey the spirit and skill of being an active [...]

By | February 14th, 2013|Categories: Philanthropy|Comments Off on Listen with your heart

Collaborate for philanthropic impact and survival

How does one survive and thrive in the age of specialization? No matter where we turn for advice -- in the medical, legal, financial or philanthropic field -- information is so fragmented. It's no longer possible to see the "entire picture." In many cases, even when several qualified experts analyze the same information, their advice to the client or donor differs greatly. How does everyone get on the same page? Is it even possible? I believe it IS possible by embracing the elements of collaboration, a process that fosters creativity, transparency, communication, consensus and impact. I believe it's imperative that nonprofit and for profit professionals collaborate to ensure the survival of the Third Sector (nonprofit institutions) as the tax reform [...]

By | November 15th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on Collaborate for philanthropic impact and survival

What Politics Could Learn from Philanthropy

Polarized political rhetoric seems to be the norm these days and the hype has us all on edge. As a matter of fact, it has many of us going over the edge and 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 renewal faint on the horizon. Philanthropy in America continues to be a pace setter in returning our nation 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. [...]

By | October 22nd, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Comments Off on What Politics Could Learn from Philanthropy

Is philanthropy in the cards?

No matter what you call it, charity, giving, or philanthropy, the topic certainly is not in the mainstream of most conversations whether it’s among friends or family members. In fact, as vital as the giving of time, talent, and money is to the well-being of the fabric of our society, unless you are in the nonprofit profession, the topic is seldom brought up in private or public conversation. One could surmise that it is either taboo or just awkward to know how to start a conversation about giving. Could talking about issues and causes that pain the heart and prod open the checkbook be considered boasting, prying, or self-interest? And if so, how can we change the course of conversation [...]

By | September 12th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Comments Off on Is philanthropy in the cards?

Are you a “Cultural Creative?”

According to sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson, “Cultural Creatives” are leading-edge creators of a new culture in America in this time of epochal change. There are 50 million people around the world shaping a new agenda for the twenty-first century. In their book, The Cultural Creatives, the authors extrapolate from their research the many ways a person’s values can relate to creating a culture in which reframing helps you look at old problems through a new lens. According to Ray, his research shows “that the more a person is engaged in social activism, ecology, philanthropy, and social justice, the more likely they are to be engaged also in developing their spiritual lives and personal growth. This [...]

By | August 9th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Comments Off on Are you a “Cultural Creative?”

Where will your philanthropy be in 2017?

“The difference between who you are now and who you are five years from now comes down to the people you meet and the books you read.” – Anonymous The year 2017 seems like a long way off for most of us, but in the blink of an eye it will fly by. And judging by the rhetoric of the proverbial soothsayers, 2017 may well be a pivotal year for women and philanthropy. Today, and moving forward for the next 60 months, I encourage you to reflect on how the insights gathered from each person you meet – and every book you read – can provide a framework from which to validate the philanthropy you champion. Perhaps a casual conversation will [...]

By | July 19th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Comments Off on Where will your philanthropy be in 2017?

What a dragonfly can teach women about philanthropy

“Myth tells us that dragonflies are associated with special characteristics which may remind us of who we are as women,” according to Dorothy Allen, interim senior vice president and chief development officer at Florida Institute of Technology. During my recent visit to the FIT campus to give my keynote speech on “Living a Purposeful Life: Values, Voice and Vision,” Dorothy shared her dragonfly research with the capacity audience. It was amazing to hear that “in almost every part of the world, the dragonfly symbolizes change, and in particular, the change in self-realization and the drive to understand life’s deeper meaning,” Dorothy said. The dragonfly myth I was most familiar with tells the story of the water beetle’s transformation into a [...]

By | June 13th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Comments Off on What a dragonfly can teach women about philanthropy

Trust, Transparency Critical in Philanthropic Quest

County music diva, Kathy Mattea’s lyrics, “Standin’ knee deep in a river and dyin’ of thirst,” could well apply to the quagmire many people get into when they start their philanthropic quest. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) there are more than 1.5 million not for-profit organizations in the United States. How does a caring and motivated person whose values are aligned with the causes they wish to impact chose the organizations to support with their time, talent and treasure? Evaluation agencies such as Guidestar and Charity Navigator efficiently rate the fiscal strength and governance stability of an organization. But how does one learn about the culture of the organization – its unique internal spirit? Is it [...]

By | May 9th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Comments Off on Trust, Transparency Critical in Philanthropic Quest

The Energy of Philanthropy

Sixty-seven years ago, a 13-year-old girl caught in the horrors of the holocaust wrote in her diary, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank believed in the goodness and compassion of people. We certainly need more conspicuous compassion in the world. Today, four out of five people believe we have lost sight of the fundamental values upon which our country was founded. Philanthropy is one of the three sectors by which we participate in community, the other two being the political and corporate sectors. What makes philanthropy special is that it is the closest to the heartbeat of the ethics and values of our society. So the question [...]

By | April 17th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on The Energy of Philanthropy

March is Women’s History Month – Reflect on “Your Reasons”

“You have your reasons.” It’s the distinctive tagline on a multitude of colorful banners heralding the many consumer delights found at City Place - West Palm Beach, Florida’s popular tourist attraction and shopping center. Conspicuous consumption is the flavor of the day at the plaza. And surely every visitor has a reason (or reasons) for parting with their money, which “makes the world go ‘round.” Like many who work in the downtown area, I frequent City Place for lunch or an after work social hour with friends. This month we were getting together to celebrate Women’s History Month, the theme being “Women’s Education, Women’s Empowerment.” In 1987, a congressional resolution was passed designating March as Women’s History Month. Not being [...]

By | March 22nd, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on March is Women’s History Month – Reflect on “Your Reasons”

Women give from the heart on Valentine’s Day… and year round

Americans are the most generous people on the face of the earth; in fact more people donate than vote. And of this group, the most generous are women, credited by The Economist magazine as “the most powerful engine of global growth.” Click here to read how women are changing the world and visit for more conversations and resources to build a better world.

By | February 15th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Women give from the heart on Valentine’s Day… and year round

Heartfelt Giving Supports Healthy Heart Living

February is National Heart Health Month and the Division of Health and Human Services has a national agenda called Million Hearts™ to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. over the next five years. They want to empower more people to reduce sodium and trans fat intake. Needless to say, this is great news for the physical part of our heart. But what are we doing to enhance the benevolent spirit in our heart? In today’s tumultuous world, what good is a healthy physical heart if the world we live in is ugly, mean-spirited and sick? In our book, Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation, my co-author Niki Nicastro McCuistion and I write [...]

By | February 13th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on Heartfelt Giving Supports Healthy Heart Living

Philanthropy through the Pipeline

Recently something about the name “Pipeline Fellowship” caught my attention as I was surfing the net. Well, in all honesty it brought to mind strains from the 60s Motown hit, “I heard it through the Grapevine.” I guess it was the rhyme of ‘pipeline’ and ‘grapevine’ that caught my musical ear – but that's where I thought any similarity between the two entities would end. Nevertheless, I’m glad my ear, rather than my eye, made me stop and read. For here is where I found out about a remarkable organization that combines the best of three elements: women, philanthropy, and for-profit social ventures. Founder and CEO, Natalia Oberti Noguera, launched the Pipeline Fellowship to activate more women angel investors and create more [...]

New Year, New Resolutions

It’s that time again. With the new year comes new resolutions. I meet women of all ages when I’m traveling across the country presenting my “Three Principles of Abundance” lectures, and one commitment I hear loud and clear, and quite frequently, is their resolve to move from conspicuous consumption and commit to live a life centered around conspicuous compassion. Such an experience helps us get back in touch with the values that shape our thoughts and drive our decisions. A person does not learn conspicuous compassion by doing, but rather by listening and observing – two virtues severely underutilized and too often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of today’s world. The practice of conspicuous compassion is proactive and deliberate [...]

By | January 5th, 2012|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on New Year, New Resolutions

Bookmark: Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing

I'm pleased to share some news about my friend and fellow John Wiley & Sons author, Michael J. Rosen. Rosen's book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, recently reached the number one planned-giving bestseller spot at! This book "helps nonprofit organizations move beyond traditional marketing techniques that have historically yielded only modest results and reveals how putting the focus on the donor can produce the best outcomes for all." Visit Michael's website to learn more.

By | December 21st, 2011|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Bookmark: Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing

Ask Margaret: What Color is Your Abundant Heart?

Q: Does your heart follow philosopher Thomas Hobbes?  A: Philosopher Hobbes defined philanthropy as "desire of good to another, benevolence, good will, charity, good nature." Yet despite these words, Hobbes had difficulty thinking anyone who was a philanthropist did so except to "enhance the esteem or 'honor' in which he was held in the community or to promote his own security and power." Q: Perhaps you believe the words of Thomas Browne?  A: Browne, an English physician who is credited with the expression "charity begins at home," believed that charity required both cool-headedness and humility. Q: Do your deeds follow in the footsteps of Andrew Carnegie?  A: Carnegie expressed in his 1889 essay Wealth, which later became known as The Gospel of Wealth, [...]

By | December 15th, 2011|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Ask Margaret: What Color is Your Abundant Heart?

Bookmark: Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

Whether you prefer to connect face-to-face or via Facebook, you're sure to enjoy the bookConnected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do by Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD and James H. Fowler, PhD. According to research by Christakis and Fowler, your friends and your friends' friends can make you fat -- or thin. Can they also make you a miser or a philanthropist? The authors reveal how our real-life social networks drive and shape virtually every aspect of our lives. Find out how easily we can be influenced by the people we choose to play, party and plot with. Visit to [...]

By | December 8th, 2011|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Bookmark: Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

Ask Margaret

Q: What, in your opinion and experience, is the most compelling reason that women donate their money? -- Shannon, West Palm Beach  A: There are typically three reasons that compel women to give: 1. Tax benefits -- IRS charitable deductions as permitted on Form 1040. 2. Participation in a program sponsored by the organization; volunteered time and talent to the organization; or a connection to an organization through a friend or family member. 3. A personal experience or a family member's experience with services from the organization; or a strong affinity with the cause or mission. Do you have a question about women and philanthropy, wealth management or planned giving? E-mail Margaret at Your question might be featured in an upcoming [...]

By | December 5th, 2011|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Ask Margaret

Bookmark: Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life

Each month, Margaret features a person, place or favorite thing that inspires her, with the hope that it will inspire you, too. Golf is great, but an "Encore Career" may bring more satisfaction and yes, perhaps even happiness to a generation of boomers who find themselves getting in the mood to take up Peggy Lee's mantra, "Keep on dancing...if that's all there is..." And that dancing is leading them right off the dance floor and directly into the freedom to do some fancy footwork in an "Encore Career." Marc Freedman's book, Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, tells the stories of men and women moving beyond their midlife careers into a new phase of work. This [...]

By | November 22nd, 2011|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Bookmark: Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life

Ask Margaret

Q: A recent article, “Two-Thirds of Donors Plan to Cut Back on Giving This Fall,” appeared in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. If such is the case, what can charities do to be proactive? A: Continue to subscribe to the KISS principle. The media, especially 24/7 TV and talk radio, has many smart, educated and normally happy people running around like Chicken Little believing “The sky is falling.” Is saying it's so making it happen? Are we wishing ourselves more doom and gloom than necessary? OK, what does all this have to do with keeping donors on the books and happy, and perhaps even increasing their year-end contributions? Here are three KISS ideas: 1) Say “thank you,” 2) Say “thank you” again [...]

By | November 16th, 2011|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Ask Margaret