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Shot of a volunteer doctor giving checkups to underprivileged kids

Economics vs. Philanthropy

Anyone can be a philanthropist regardless of their social or financial status. A true philanthropist is someone who strives to connect to the good and to make a positive change through that good.  The study of economics has always fascinated me, particularly the supply and demand aspect of it. To understand economics is to understand that “scarcity” goes hand in hand with supply and demand as most people have unlimited wants but our resources are limited. When I say “resources” I am referring to our natural resources such as minerals, metals, food supply from our oceans, lumber from trees and the air we breathe. So, what does economics have to do with philanthropy? Let’s just say that the average person does not wake up in the morning saying to themselves that their time and the earths natural resources are limited. Yet if you ask a philanthropist, activist, or a humanitarian why they do what they do, their response will predictably include a detailed description of how the human population is rapidly depleting and destroying our earth and that we do not have much time to correct it. You will experience an electric charge of urgency within their beingness, pulled into their passionate expression as your soul awakens with conviction. At least this is how I feel when I am together with one or more of my fellow change agent gurus!  The more invested I became in my philanthropic work, the more I was exposed to how philanthropy can also be used to mislead people in making a company look good for its stakeholders, pay fewer taxes, or leverage a cover-up from human and animal rights activists. 

The more I experienced this, the more I was called into action. Together with my business partners we developed a system to support organizations to de-risk their corporate social responsibility initiatives. Most CEO’s do not go to school to learn how to be socially responsible. The acronym CSR just became an industry buzz word in the last 10 years due to some governments requiring mandatory social and economic initiatives. The recent United Nations social and development goals (SDG 2030) has also created a lot of hype and yet social responsibility initiatives have been around since the 1950’s and primarily used as a bucket to throw money at for tax deductions and good marketing.  

Now more than ever we need to access the philanthropic money that is being used inefficiently and shift from the self-serving interests to our global needs, challenging all corporate giving initiatives more deeply.  I believe that never has there been a greater time in history when more and more organizations believe in both the responsibility and capability of businesses to address today’s greatest social issues. There are enough CEO’s, directors, owners, and workforces who are authentically driven to create measurable social impact and influence positive lifestyle changes to move the human race forward.  A corporate commitment to weaken the dysfunctional ways our world operates and create corporate cultures where the workforce participates and contributes, and all stakeholders are a demand to be part of something transforming.

I believe through holding these organizations accountable to be transparent with their intentions, we can shift philanthropy into a higher state of effective altruism. Altruistic thinking is the difference needed to create that measurable, impactful, and sustainable change. I strongly believe that the more we have concern and care for the welfare of others the quicker we can build generous economies and witness the rise of capitalism shifting to genuine humanism.  “Every person must decide whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” As these words from Martin Luther King, Jr. flow continuously through my mind, I am reminded that to change a society we must change the way we think and when our thoughts are filled with empathy, love and selflessness we become the generous heroes of today that will build a generous tomorrow.

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