Philanthropy

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“Cart Before the Horse” Philanthropy

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 [...]

Where is the balance between the heart and head in philanthropy?

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. [...]

When did the ladies who lunch become the ladies who lead?

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 [...]

Who do philanthropists answer to?

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 [...]

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 [...]

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: , , , , , |0 Comments

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 [...]

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: , , , , |0 Comments

Is the Phoenix Rising in Philanthropy?

Perhaps, all the chaos and uncertainly in the world is the perfect nesting place from which the mythical, sacred fire bird is about to be reborn to reignite the flame of compassion, goodwill and benevolence in the human heart. In Greek mythology, Herodotus tells of the bird’s unique ability to be consumed by fire and reborn from the ashes. Throughout the ages, the colorful and stately phoenix’s appearance has been depicted as a sign of a coming age of prosperity and greatness for people and of nations. Recently, I’ve been pondering, in what personification the phoenix might rise, if indeed I allow myself the luxury to indulge in a mystical and meditative moment or two, as the frantic milieu of [...]

Philanthropist Jane Addams’ legend lives on through Nobel recipients

In the 110-year history of the Nobel Peace Prize, only 12 women have been honored for their courageous leadership in the struggle for women’s rights. Among them is peace activist and philanthropist, Jane Addams, Mother Teresa, and Wangari Maathai. On Oct. 7, history was again made when Thorbjorn Jagland, the head of the Nobel committee, announced that three influential women from Africa and the Middle East were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011. Two of the winners were from Liberia: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female president in post-colonial Africa, and the peace activist Leymah Gbowee. Tawakkol Karman, a prominent female figure in Yemen’s populist uprising this year, was honored for her work to establish a [...]

If Money Can’t Buy Happiness, Perhaps Philanthropy Can!

I’ve been reading a lot about happiness these days. Well, more about how we are all unhappy and searching far and wide for our personal wellbeing. Aristotle calls it Eudemonia – wellbeing of the soul; Buddhism refers to it a Nirvana – spiritual enlightenment. As the song laments, “Money makes the world go round,” but what about our happiness, wellbeing and enlightenment? It seems the current economy reflects the fact that conspicuous consumption is fading into the sunset as more and more men and women search the horizon for the vibrant hue of conspicuous compassion in their life and work. Could it be that we are on the cusp of a transformative moment in history? And if so, can philanthropy [...]

By | September 19th, 2011|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Five Ways Women Philanthropists “Speak Female”

In a recent workshop in Tampa for the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, I presented my research on how to “Speak Female” and the impact it has to engage women to excel in their philanthropy. Women as philanthropists are no longer a niche market – it is THE market for philanthropy. To “Speak Female” is to be a role model for the next generation. Philanthropy is congruent with women’s goals and aspirations to make a difference in society. Women believe that the philanthropic platform serves as a voice to “Speak Female” and reshape the ethics and morals in our society and reset the compass due north for the next generation. To “Speak Female” is to be: 1) Empowered with the ability [...]

By | September 12th, 2011|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Philanthropy: Big, Bold and Beautiful Giving

“To give away money is an easy matter and in anyone’s power.  But to decide whom to give it and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every person’s power- nor an easy matter. Hence it is that such excellence is rare, praiseworthy and noble.”  – Aristotle  “Big, Bold, Beautiful” are the three new B’s in philanthropy. And one can participate in many ways. The rich and famous, such as Paul Allen, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet and David Rockefeller (and the rich and soon-to-be famous for their generosity) are getting on board through “The Giving Pledge.” It’s a moral commitment to give the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable [...]

By | July 20th, 2011|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Characteristics of Virtuous Philanthropists, Conclusion

The stories of our virtuous philanthropists share a common thread, a bond that weaves their lives together even though they may not know each other. The bond is echoed by the late Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop. When asked to comment on her decision to sell $150 million of the company's stock and give the proceeds to charity, she said, "They thought that eccentric of me. But you can't take it with you and you're a long time dead." Dame Roddick died in 2007, at the age of 64, from a cerebral hemorrhage, after a long battle with hepatitis C from a blood transfusion, which had gone undiagnosed for several years. She fulfilled her promise to leave [...]

By | December 2nd, 2010|Categories: Philanthropy|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments