The words charity and philanthropy are often used interchangeably, but it is the difference between the two that makes the biggest impact on the world around us.
Charity is ingrained in America’s cultural fabric – we give to charity because we feel a moral or religious calling to do so. Charity is how we show compassion for people displaced by natural disaster, or our support for victims of crime or violence. Charity is the change we leave behind in the jar to find homes for abandoned animals, or the extra dollar we contribute to fight poverty in third world countries.
Goodwill Industries is an American institution (and a former two-time employer of this blogger) that relies on charitable contributions to help support its services. And yet, its founder, the Reverend Edgar J. Helms, believed that Goodwill should be “not charity, but a chance” for people in need.
How does that chance happen? The answer is philanthropy.
Steve Gunderson, former president of the Council on Foundations, helped distinguish the difference between the two ostensibly interchangeable ideals:
Charity tends to be a short-term, emotional, immediate response, focused primarily on rescue and relief, whereas philanthropy is much more long-term, more strategic, focused on rebuilding. One of my colleagues says there is charity, which is good, and then there is problem-solving charity, which is called philanthropy, and I think that’s the distinction I have tried to make.
Whereas charity is essential to address immediate needs, philanthropy is the means by which individuals and nonprofit agencies achieve their greater missions. Philanthropy is breaking down the stereotype that an ex-offender can’t contribute to a business and society at-large. Philanthropy is building a well for a remote village in East Africa. Philanthropy is changing hearts and minds and cultures, it’s righting wrongs, it’s making the world a better place.
Charity is giving…philanthropy is doing.
Modern philanthropy paraphrases another of Reverend Helms’ favorite sayings. Charity can be a vital hand out to someone in need, but philanthropy is the hand up that allows that individual to find lasting success.
Few of us can make the kind of gift that adds a wing onto a hospital or builds a new library at our alma mater, but almost all of us can – with a little planning – be philanthropists that make a difference in some small (or large) way.
The difference between charity and philanthropy is one we can all define, if we take a little effort to make the distinction. Are you up for the challenge?
After the event, Smolyansky and I exchanged emails and I asked her for a few closing words for young professionals (since my live Tweets ended abruptly). She was kind enough to humor my request, so I’ll let her words serve as a conclusion:
If you have any doubt about your abilities to lead, to contribute…let them wash over you now and get on with it. We don’t have time. The time is now. We need you to step up, challenge yourself, innovate, be who you were meant to be. Join a movement you believe in or create your own. Just do it. The world is rooting for you.
November 15 has been declared National Philanthropy Day – a day meant to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – have made to our lives, our communities and our world. My friend, Nathan Hand, posted 10 fun ways to celebrate NPD on his blog. It was a great list…but I think he could have gone even further.
So without further ado, here are five more ways you can celebrate National Philanthropy Day:
- Watch the National Philanthropy Day official video…and share it across your social networks– ready to be inspired? Watch this three minute video:
- Follow the high-level conversation on Twitter – all day, the White House is convening a forum on nonprofit leadership. Though closed to the public, this event – featuring discussions led by White House officials and business and nonprofit leaders – will be Live Tweeted at the hashtag #NPlead.
- Research and recognize philanthropy’s all-stars – the Association of Fundraising professionals today released the names of its 2012 Awards for Philanthropy winners. These amazing people and organizations deserve to be publicly lauded!
- Talk about philanthropy – our personal and professional lives – while often fulfilling – are a constant drain on our energy and attention. Maybe we can’t always afford to think and act philanthropically, but for one day, we can talk about it. Mention philanthropy in your next conversation…chances are, you can be an inspiration!
- Blog about National Philanthropy Day – see what I did there? Let’s all keep spreading the word!
Have any more celebratory ideas? Post a reply below!
This blog is just over a month old, so it’s high time that I give something back to my tens of loyal readers. And what better for a social media/philanthropy blog than a philanthropy-themed contest promoted via social media?
Let’s back up a few steps. Yesterday, I was thrilled to get an email from one of my favorite for-profit companies, TOMS Shoes:
I was fortunate enough to hear TOMS founder and Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie speak at the 2011 Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference and was so inspired that I bought a pair of TOMS that night (I even wore them during my wedding two months later!).
So now you’re probably saying, “Enough about you…didn’t you say something about a contest?” Fair enough. As part of the Books for Bloggers program, I will be giving away one copy of Blake’s book, “Start Something that Matters.” Here’s how you can win:
I want to hear how you’ve done something that matters – something in your community, regionally, nationally, globally, or even at a one-on-one level. The winner won’t be selected because of the number of people he or she influenced, but rather by the originality of his or her inspiration. Frankly, you could have even been unsuccessful in your efforts…results don’t matter as much as passion.
Enter this contest by posting a synopsis of how did something that matters in the comments section below (note: your candidacy will be given a boost if you can document your efforts). While I’d love to hear entries via the blog’s Facebook page and/or through Twitter, only those entries submitted as a comment on this post will be considered. I reserve the right to subjectively choose the winner (please be prepared to share your real name and mailing address if you win). This contest will end on December 31, 2011.
“Start Something that Matters” is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most everywhere books are sold. No retailer compensates me for referrals, so I’ll let you find the links on your own. Good luck!
Maybe it’s a generational thing, as Gen Xers were told from an early age that we were special, our thoughts unique and we could grow up be anything we wanted. Maybe it’s a technology thing, as the prevalence of social media mediums has given all of us opportunity and impunity to broadcast our most mundane opinions. And maybe it’s just a me thing – maybe I’m just self-absorbed and obsessed with tools that let me focus on my favorite subject (hint: he’s got blond hair, blue eyes and wears a smirk like nobody’s business).
Whatever the explanation, there is no arguing the fact that our online interactions have become increasingly bombarded with self-promotion…and really, why shouldn’t I fall in line with the masses? Today I’d like to share with you two tech tools that I will be using to communicate both my ideas and “matthewsm1th” brand.
The first is paper.li – billed as a content curation service that enables people to publish online newspapers based on topics they like. I’ve seen various “Dailies” on my Twitter feed and decided to create one of my own. For all your philanthropy, social media, nonprofit communication and related reading, I encourage you to check out the matthewsm1th.com Daily. This electronic newspaper will update each day, so bookmark it and return regularly.
For some, my Daily may be a bit broad. I have limited control over what the algorithm selects and have neither the time nor inclination to read every article published. Clearly, I can’t exactly expect anyone else to do so. That’s why I’m super excited about Twylah – a site that catalogs all my Tweets and organizes them (by topic and hashtag) into a sleek newsletter format. The result is something that, at first blush, resembles my paper.li Daily. Upon further review, however, you will notice that my Twylah page contains only the content I intentionally pushed to my Twitter followers. Still in beta testing, this tool provides a sleek way to organize and monitor content, while “showing the world who you are and what you’re about at a glance.”
Again, it’s entirely possible that these sites appeal to me simply for their power to broadcast my thoughts, inspiration and smiling face all over the interwebs…but it’s also possible that there may be some genuine value contained within. Check out my Daily and my Twylah and tell me what you think!
Yesterday I posted a rather lengthy diatribe about the over-sharing of foursquare check-ins across social media networks. My point was that there is no reason to cross-share a majority of 4sq check-ins on Twitter or Facebook. In fact, I think that most of the time, doing so is both rude and redundant.
And yet, there is a time and place for sharing your foursquare activity on other networks. Here are three examples of occasions in which you should feel free to share your check-ins across multiple social media platforms:
- You’re at a conference, class or event – yes, apps like Sonar will help you find and meet other attendees, but if your network may have a legitimate curiosity about where you are and why you’re there, I say share away.
- You’re somewhere relevant with someone relevant – you don’t have to be doing something interesting to warrant a 4sq check-in, but we’ve already covered why those activities need not be shared. Do something WITH someone interesting, however, and almost any mundane activity becomes pertinent for others as well.
- There’s swag at stake – many businesses give perks to customers who check-in on foursquare; often, you simply have to show your phone to a staff member and the freebie is yours. However, some businesses demand to see that you pushed your check-in to your Twitter or Facebook feeds. Though your friends may suffer from your oversharitis, anything goes if it nets you a free appetizer.
That’s it. Your home, office and/or favorite coffee shop – lambasted yesterday for stupidity of shared check-ins – may even apply. Just use your head, a sense of decency and remember that your social media activity should always be personal, never automatic and as relevant as possible to people not walking in your shoes.
Because otherwise, what’s the point?
Twitter is the source for a large majority of my blogging inspiration. That’s why I want to draw your attention to a Tweet from one of the most brilliant and handsome people communicating 140 characters at a time:
I told you he was good.
Don’t get me wrong – I like Foursquare. Hell, I even use Foursquare (to excess). I simply don’t understand why people feel the need to share their check-ins across multiple social media outlets. I’m so fired up about this that I feel the need to explain how you may be using Foursquare incorrectly…and how to change your evil ways.
We all know them when we see them, but I’ve taken the liberty of listing the virtual world’s three most over-shared, annoying and pointless Foursquare check-ins:
- Your office – yeah, I know where I can find you during normal work hours – it’s printed on your business card. Unless your employer uses Foursquare in lieu of a time clock, spare us the update. It’s interesting to see when John and Jane Q. Public come walking in your business’s door; it’s pointless when Ted from Accounting shares his cigarette break comings and goings.
- Starbucks – got a craving for a half-caff nonfat venti cappuccino? No one cares. Your daily errands may help build your Foursquare score and clout with businesses, but who’s so arrogant as to think their contacts care? If your check-in is all about you, best keep it to yourself.
- Your house – how desperate are people to “game” the Foursquare system that they create a location for their homes and check in every time they walk through their front doors? Before Foursquare recently changed their privacy settings for residences, I was fond of checking into obvious “home” locations and posting statuses like “going through the underwear drawer” or “nice Bieber memorabilia!” What can I say? I’m a class act.
Perhaps you think I’m missing the point about Foursquare. Sharing check-ins is a great way to build commonality across networks, meet new friends and learn what’s happening to contacts in real-time. Here’s the thing: I’m not missing it. I get it completely. You can utilize Foursquare perfectly and still not be an annoying, over-sharing attention whore.
“But,” you whine, “if I’m not sharing my Foursquare check-in on Twitter, how will anyone know where I’ve been?” That question deserves a detailed answer, one that you can provide by asking yourself the following:
- Is there any reason someone would WANT to know about this check-in?
- Am I connected on Foursquare to the people whose knowledge of my check-in I so desperately care about? Why or why not?
- How will people find out about something important if I don’t share it?
If no one has a reason to care, it should be pretty clear that your check-in doesn’t need to be shared. If you believe they may care, invite them to connect with you on Foursquare. That way, every one of your check-ins can be accessed without overwhelming all of your connections’ timelines. If they don’t choose to connect with you, they’ve told you they don’t care.
The last question should steer you in what I believe is the direction best suited for location-based social media. You can still build your network through shared experiences – amongst friends and random strangers alike – without pushing pointless updates across platforms. I do so with Sonar – a mobile application that uncovers the hidden connections shared with nearby people. Linked to my Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, Sonar tells me when I’ve checked into the same location as another contact…or when I’ve checked in to the same place as someone I may/could/should know (“Jane has also checked into Whole Foods. You share two Twitter connections. View her profile here”). Best of all, Sonar runs unobtrusively in the background of my iPhone and pushes me relevant notifications without bothering anyone else (the Android app is on the way).
Isn’t this a much better option than the endless amounts of location-based bait dropped in the faint hopes of catching new connections? Why, in a world of Sonar (and similar apps), are people still sharing insignificant check-ins across multiple platforms? If ignorance was the excuse, I hope you’ll reform your bad habits. If you have another reason, for the love of God, please share it in the comments section on this post.
Just don’t post your rants on Twitter. My feed is already crammed with worthlessness.
Coming tomorrow – proof that I’m a hypocrite: the Foursquare check-ins I approve of sharing across social media networks.