Philanthropy for the Rest of Us

Philanthropy for the Rest of Us


The concept, even the word, “Philanthropy” often conjures images and thoughts that are not a common part of most of our lives. We often picture very wealthy people attending fancy, black-tie galas; making huge gifts that build museums, hospitals, or art galleries; or the civic leader receiving awards and accolades for years of generosity that makes him or her a well-known figure. As true as these iconic figures and acts may be, they exist in the world of the one-percenters, the Uber-rich who will never know, want nor experience difficult choices when budgeting. They are important, but they are not commonplace.

So, does philanthropy have much presence, much impact, much value outside this elite world?

Does philanthropy exist and even thrive for the un-Uber-rich? What about philanthropy for the rest of us? If it does exist, what does it look like? What impact does it make? Do nonprofits even care about it? And who will help the rest of us be effective philanthropists?

You may be surprised to learn that 2/3 of individual giving comes from non-uber wealthy. You likely didn’t know that the average family’s giving to nonprofit organizations is between $2,000 and $3,000 per year.

You might overlook the fact that Americans contribute 8.8 billion volunteer hours, worth an estimated $195 billion – about 30% of total support – each year to help charities complete their missions. These are incredible contributions that make a huge impact on the ability of our mission-driven organizations to change the lives of so many in their communities.

Nonprofit leaders will tell you that they could not make the impact they do without these common-day gifts.

As is apparent, then, there is a huge world of philanthropy going on daily for the rest of us.

While the Uber-rich may get the publicity, the rest of us should get the credit for the ongoing success of our vibrant nonprofit community. Simply put, many in need would be left behind if we depended only on the Uber-rich to support philanthropy. I believe we all have something to offer and can help make a difference in our communities.

This column, in the days ahead, will share information, ideas, stories, and strategies that will demonstrate that there indeed is philanthropy for the rest of us.

And I would like to be the philanthropic leader and professional advisor that helps bring this world to you so that you can maximize the impact and personal rewards that are the key aspects of participating, and the reasons that I am so passionate about sharing it. Are you ready to explore more?

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