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Rise Above Philanthropy

We know that philanthropy is good; it is funding channeled to organisations that help people who may not have access to government or community support. I saw Bill Gates interviewed for an hour on television last night, and have to admire his cool passion and dedication to his foundation activities.

However, philanthropy on its own is not enough. Even though giving is supposedly at record high levels, we still have lots of problems in the world. This is the message that all participants at the Global Shared Value Summit agreed upon last week, including the likes of the Rockefeller Foundation.

What may surprise you is that they also endorsed a new form of business and community engagement – called Shared Value – where business has a commercial incentive to bring resources, innovation and scale to our pressing societal needs.

Each of us individually may have the capacity to donate funds, or we may not; regardless, let’s take philanthropy to the next level and become more active participants. Here’s three ways that you can make a difference:

  1. Connect with your local community – doing a small job reliably and well for a club or association that you are associated with provides a boost to everyone else and will help you get results together.
  2. Value your existing contributions – if you help look after an elderly or disabled person or another type of activity that is less formal or under the radar, it has immense value! Be proud of it and acknowledge others doing the same thing – don’t think that you are not contributing.
  3. Challenge your workplace – how can you go beyond workplace giving and the odd volunteering day to make a sustained impact? This is where Shared Value comes to the fore – if the business you work for can help more people and make more money in the process then it will keep helping more people…

And finally, don’t stop giving to organisations that you support, see the three points above as extensions of your own giving platform.

Is your ability to rise above philanthropy an untapped asset of yours?

PS. I’m reaching out to find people who are willing to discuss the challenges they face in trying to engage more with their local community, as research for the book I’m writing. Please contact me, comment or reply if you have something to add.

PPS. I am running webinars next week to explain how Shared Value can be applied in business and harnessed by charities and government.

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