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?
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!
Today I’m going to kill two birds with one blogging stone – this post is my review of a recent philanthropy webinar, utilizing a catalog of my live tweets of the event. Don’t worry about how boring this all sounds…just enjoy the goodness.
On October 19, I attended a webinar hosted by my friend, Allison Lewis Lodhi, entitled “Report the Facts and Create a Conversation.” Allison was presenting some great research regarding donor retention, attrition, stewardship and more. While she didn’t offer earth-shattering findings, Allison’s work reinforced what most fundraisers should know (but too infrequently act upon) – that engaging donors is a continual effort that requires ongoing, open and transparent communication. We’d all like a road map to major gifts, but every individual donor requires some individual, customized touches.
I had planned on providing a bullet list of my live tweets from the webinar, but thought I’d instead utilize a newly discovered tool to do the heavy lifting. I recently learned about Tweetwally – a tool that lets you create custom “Tweet Walls” for whatever username, keyword and/or hashtag topic you want to search. The result, for me, was a dedicated URL of my live Tweet’s from Allison’s #npreport webinar.
Still confused? Check out my Tweet Wall, read Allison’s insights and tell me what you think!
Allison Lewis Lodhi, CFRE, is Vice President of Consulting at Pursuant. To view her on-demand webinar and/or view her PowerPoint slides, please click here.
Update: 10/27 @2:30 pm — apparently, Tweetwally only catalogs tweets for 7 days, so my entire Tweet Wall is gone. That’s a pretty big flaw, huh? So much for the infinite storage of the world wide webs.
I have authored three blogs in the past: one that was an exercise in vanity and unemployment, one that had political aspirations (and middling success) and one with tepid commitment from your’s truly. So what will make this effort any different? Geez, it’s just my first paragraph. Get off my back.
The truth: I believe that I have something to contribute to the conversation in the rapidly evolving worlds of social media and philanthropy, as well as the intersection of those sometimes aligned, sometimes adversarial circles. I am not a social media expert; I am not a philanthropy guru. I’m just a guy with 10+ years of experience in the nonprofit sector…who is fascinated by the power of social media and gets easily distracted by shiny objects. Ideally, the lessons I’ve learned and my slightly skewed takes will prove interesting to readers other than my mom.
If not, I’ll try (and often fail) to make you laugh. It’s the least I can do.
Your snuggle bunny,
PS – many of you are more accomplished and knowledgeable bloggers than I am. I will happily accept any and all constructive criticism. Destructive criticism? Keep it to yourself, bub.