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Integrating Philanthropy into Daily Life


19Oct 2009

This past weekend I had the privilege of helping facilitate a board meeting for a family foundation. One of the goals of the meeting was to begin to more fully integrate the next generation (currently twentysomethings) into the foundation’s activities and financial giving over the coming years.

Part of the process included looking at philanthropy through the lens of daily life, rather than conceptualizing it as just large financial gifts given to non-profit organizations. Here are a few thoughts from that process.

A reminder that philanthropy comes from the Greek words phileo (practical love) and anthropos (meaning man or mankind). So essentially philanthropy is the act of demonstrating practical love to others.

So, at a very basic foundational level, if we think about philanthropy in daily life, it is really embodied in kindness and treating others as you would like to be treated.

We then can take practical love toward others to the level of our lifestyle decisions and how our daily decisions impact our local and global communities. Here is a list of practical areas of daily life with some brief notes of issues to consider in each area.

*Groceries (packaging, buying in bulk, local producers)
*Transportation (utilizing public, automobile choices, flying)
*Clothing, Personal Items (used, consignment, self-made)
*Gifts (consider not giving objects, self-made, Third world, charitable donations)
*Electronics (recycling computers, cell phones, TV’s / screens, energy efficiency)
*Housing (green, energy efficiency, remodeling)
*Banking (utilizing community-based, socially-involved
*Services (using global professionals from accounting, web design)
*Physical health (healthy lifestyle, exercise, equipment)
*Medical treatment (natural, preventative, high tech, insurance)
*Recycling (paper, plastic, glass, metal, in general)
*Recreation / Entertainment (low cost, low impact, big business)
*Financial investments (socially responsible, mission and program related investments)

We then also discussed ways to incorporate charitable giving in one’s daily life context (versus just thinking about annual financial gifts). These included:

*Looking for needs in your local, daily community.
*Observing organizations that intersect with your life.
*Volunteering your time, service and expertise.
*Giving financially from your monthly income.
*Attending charitable events and fundraisers of organizations you want to support.

No major earthshaking revelations here, but possibly some helpful reminders in how we can think about others through our daily life decisions.

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