Philanthropy. Giving. Giving back. Charity… different words, the same meaning? When we look at modern day philanthropy, our media developed thoughts are instantly triggered to think of Bill Gates, his wide Melinda, JK Rowling, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet some of the greatest donors of cash of our time. Generous. Kind. Tax-driven? Whatever the reason behind the generosity, it must be commended that a vast number of people have benefitted from their giving, people who may otherwise be unhelped, who may have died without them.
Defining Philanthropy today has never been more challenging. As governments like India introduce policies to ensure corporates must give back to those less well off, Philanthropy as cash-giving, seems to grow, daily. Our media outlets are fuelled by bad news, of devastation, of the need for someone to reach out, “to pay to cure the cause”, but too often they quickly fail to return to show outcome, to show the results of the generosity of giving, the cure in action, the smiling child whose life was saved by our dollar-donations, our Philanthropic acts. Of course, this is tied into our reasons for being philanthropic. Do we need the thanks? Do we need the appreciation from the beneficiaries of our thoughtful act? Do we need to be applauded or are our philanthropic acts grounded firmly in altruism? Dipping 5 dollars into a collection tin gives me a warm feeling inside. It makes me think that perhaps one day, I will need someones help and they will give to me. What goes around, comes around. Karma. Human nature. Pay it forward. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Not altruism but taking care of our future selves, perhaps?
Philanthropy has developed itself to become a corporate act of giving with a measurable goodness, measured by the 0’s after the dollar sign. It forms the basis for thousands of glossy reports, of many boardroom pitches and policies and has a certain caché to it. What we, as private individuals, can keep close to ourselves is that philanthropy, much like charity, begins at home. The founding definition of Philanthropy is ‘the love of humanity’. It was never measured in dollars. We have, before our beings, each day, the opportunity to be philanthropic; to be thoughtful, to be caring, to be at one with ourselves and those around us, to be our own philanthropist.
Extending beyond our own philanthropy is something which each of us does, daily. The smile to the shop assistant, the use of the gratitudinal phrase of ‘thankyou’ and the transition from personal gratitude to demonstratively paying it forward to those who are not as lucky as we are. We all have opportunities to be demonstrative in our giving. As the world of mindfulness opens itself up to our engagement, it is a small thing to consider but to ask oneself if we can be mindfully philanthropic. Explore why we feel the need to give back, to pay forward, to show others we care about them, to save the life of a child across the world who never has to knock on our door to thank us. We do this because we are grateful. Grateful for life, for security, for safety, for those we have around us who keep us in their circle of gratitude. We are all philanthropists, we can all make a difference. Time is precious, dollars come and dollars go. Be mindful. Be thoughtful, be your own unique mind philanthropist, give yourself the pleasure of changing something, for someone, somehow. Be yourself!
John Patrick O’Sullivan
Moeloco, Policy Consultant
JP comes from a qualified and practiced background of working in adult mental health, child protection, international education and marketing with a developed keenness in writing and critical policy analysis. The coming months will see an expansion of his expertise as JP moves full-time into the international anti-slavery world as a practitioner.