I recently ran across a survey asking about philanthropy and changing the world. There were five multiple-choice questions on the survey and after I read the results, it got me thinking more about fundraising and philanthropy. Now, I do a lot of fundraising, working with groups or individuals trying to raise money, grant writing and training, putting on and running fundraising events, and giving money to various groups.
I’m going to repeat the survey here and give my choice as a survey answer and also the answer I would have given had the question been open ended.
1. What is your favorite trend in giving?
- Charity Runs like “Tough Mudder”
- One-for-one brands like Warby Parker
- Challenges like “live below the line”
- Gaming apps like “my life as a refugee”
I like the trend of companies doing a product and using that product to helps others whether it is glasses or shoes. Although I like the idea of bike races, walks, or runs, because having someone push themselves to something they otherwise wouldn’t have done and to disperse their fundraising to friends and family members is a great idea, I really love the idea of companies building in philanthropy into their business model, like salesforce.com. They set aside part of their revenue, they run a company foundation, and they set the expectation of employee involvement in philanthropy. I like the idea of involving as many people as possible and making it as easy as possible to help and be involved.
2. In which service organization would you want to enlist?
- Peace corps
- Teach for America
- City Year
I like the ability of Teach for America to build life-long skills in the people they are training and reaching under-privileged communities. I don’t know if Habitat for Humanity is a “service organization,” but I really love what they do. I like the trend of philanthropy vacations – doing good and seeing a new part of the world. It’s a match-making problem – finding areas that need help and matching them with resources and people to help. I really love a new group one of my friends is working with – Team4Tech. They deploy a three-pronged approach of train the trainer education, involving companies to provide people and resources, and then doing projects around the world to build sustainable education.
3. Which documentary made you want to stand up for its cause?
- The Invisible War
- Fed Up
- After Tiller
Since I haven’t seen any of these documentaries, I didn’t choose one. A film I saw recently, Food, Inc., really affected me and grossed me out (which is hard to do as I grew up on a farm) – the chickens being bred for breast meat, can’t even walk and hold up their breasts was an image that will stay with me for a long time. Makes me only want to eat food I grow and can see.
4. Which annual act do you look forward to year-round?
- Buying Girl Scout cookies
- Participating in the National Day of Service
- Planting with One Million Trees Campaigns
- Joining the International Coastal Cleanup
These choices seem supercilious to me, but I always support Girl Scouts and buy Thin Mints by the truck loads. In fact, I have some in my freezer still (that I have to fend off the boys from eating). I love the National Day of Service but to me that is a limited idea, just one day? Why not a week, or a month, or regular involvement with an organization? Our boys Scout troop has participated in the tree planting over the last few years. The annual act that I look forward to every year is sitting down with our kids and choosing organizations to support and donate to. We usually do this over Thanksgiving weekend. I want them to think about more than themselves and which organizations or groups they want to support and why. (PS, they usually choose the Peninsula Humane Society and want to help animals).
5. Winning the Lottery, you drop everything and:
- Create schools for girls in developing nations
- Rebuild communities affected by natural disaster
- Research sustainable energy initiatives
- Fund arts programs nationally
I chose the schools for girls because other nations have different cultures and approaches to education, which usually exclude women. Why a nation or culture would automatically think educating half a population is a good idea is beyond me, but I think education is the key to anyone’s success – including an individual, society, or a nation. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would concentrate on sustainable enterprises that affect the most people. I have a couple of ideas like Philanthropy Camp or Virtual Career Day/Mentor that can be online vehicles to train more people than if you were training in person and share information on the broadest basis as possible.
What do you think about changing the world?