This is Money
“You can do good and do well”
November 6, 2017 | 12:22 am| | | Start Conversation
For decades Africa has relied on foreign aid to meet some of the developmental and humanitarian needs of the continent.
“To move the African philanthropy agenda forward in an inclusive and sustainable form, there is a need for collaborative efforts among philanthropists, social investors, governments, civil society organisations, governments and non-profits. Coming together promotes a critical mass and gives the much needed vice for disruptive change.” – African Philanthropy Forum
The 2017 African Philanthropy Forum Conference held in Lagos last week. It provided a platform to explore the role of philanthropists in shaping the continent’s future. It was a great opportunity for promoting collaborations with over 150 philanthropists from Africa and beyond in attendance.
“Philanthropy” is from a Greek word meaning “Love of Humanity”. It dates back to Greek philosopher, Plato in 347 B.C. His will instructed his nephew to use the proceeds of the family farm to fund the academy that Plato founded. The money helped students and faculty keep the academy running.
Some words come to mind when you talk about philanthropy – giving, charity, social impact, community etc. There is a difference between charitable giving and philanthropic giving. The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those usually in immediate need. Charitable giving involves providing food, shelter, cloths, medical care etc. “Philanthropic giving” is not about meeting immediate physical needs, but rather about solving long-term problems.
For example, if the focus is on trying to make a positive impact on a chronic unemployment problem, a philanthropist may consider creating opportunities for vocational and entrepreneurship training that will have a far-reaching impact as opposed to giving only cash.
Do your due diligence. While many charitable groups are honest and sincere, there will inevitably be unscrupulous individuals and companies that may launder ill-gotten funds under the guise of doing good. It is thus important to do your due diligence before getting involved.
A good way to get started is to ask yourself a few questions: What people, problems, or philosophies do I care most about? Determine what causes you would like to support. Will it be a one-off donation or is it something you can afford to commit to year on year? Narrow your choices down to a few initiatives whose ethos and mission are in consonance with your own core values. Follow up to see the positive impact of your contribution and you will find it easier to continue to give.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to define the perfect approach or strategy before taking action; on the other hand, it may be tempting to write cheques without any real plan or focus and support many causes but with little lasting impact; strategic giving with structure will inevitably be more sustainable.
Do you often reminisce about how things used to be at your alma mater and how far standards have fallen? With an endowed gift, you can provide permanent support for the educational institution. Your contributions will be invested and each year a distribution made to fund the program or area that matches your area of particular interest or focus. Some also decide to, through the title, forever link your name, or that of a family member to continued excellence at the college.
It is easy to become overly optimistic about what your own limited resources can realistically accomplish. What are others doing that are in consonance with your own philosophy. Consider how your philanthropy fits into the context of the field, and how your efforts, together with others with more experience, might drive even greater and more lasting change.
You can do good and do well. The idea of impact investing introduces the for-profit model into giving. Instead of just making money, you are making money and having an impact that is addressing pressing problems at the same time; you are not just measuring returns; you are measuring returns as well as impact.
Giving does not mean that you must give only financially; Most of us are in a position to give of our time and effort, material goods, expertise, compassion or money. The possibilities of giving of your time, experience, talent and intellect are vast. Are you a resource person in a particular field? There will be something, some knowledge, some talent that you can share with others that will impact positively on their lives and the wider community.
Involve your children. Make philanthropy a part of your business and family life. Involve your children in philanthropy from an early age. It is not enough to just tell them to be charitable and kind; our own actions in supporting others will speak louder than any thing we can say. We must guide them through a program of action so that becomes ingrained into their psyche.
Giving some attention to the plight of millions of internally displaced persons (IDP) in our own country this Christmas, will teach them a powerful and vivid real-life lesson, that their money or posessions can have a positive effect on the wellbeing of their peers so close to home.
Having money comes with a huge responsibility; it affords one the opportunity and privilege of making a positive impact in society. Material possessions will eventually lose their shine, but through philanthropy, one can change, shape and even save lives.
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