Personal Philanthropy Plans

Here’s something to think about during this sunny Memorial Day weekend:

America ranks first in the world in giving as a percentage of GDP at 1.7%. (Data and the stats on the right is from last month’s issue of Fast Company.)

Can you imagine if every family in the US planned to give at least 1.7% of their gross income to charity? I know that statistically speaking, Americans are the most “generous,” but how many families, and even individuals, out there really have a philanthropy plan built into their budgets?

When I stopped to think about it, I realized that I don’t really have a philanthropy plan. I can’t even count how many times I have been asked to give money to a friend who was riding in the AIDS Lifecycle or running a marathon for Komen for the Cure. But I hesitate to give because 1) I work in non-profit, and let’s be real, the pay isn’t the highest in the world, and 2) it’s hard to keep track of my giving throughout the year. There seems to ALWAYS be a cause out there that needs money, from HIV/AIDS in the gay community, to natural disasters in Asia, to starving children, to starving gay children suffering from AIDS in Asia. I can see how it can get overwhelming, and even tiring, to the layperson.

But imagine if everyone had a philanthropy plan where she:

  1. budgeted to give away at least 1.7% of her gross income every year, and
  2. had specifically chosen nonprofit organization(s) that aligned with her values to give that money to.

For the average full-time working person who makes the median income of $43,317 (from wikipedia), that would equate to being able to give away $736.38 per year. How many of us gave $736.38 or more last year? I think I gave someone $100 for a marathon last year, but that’s about it. And it wasn’t like I had thought beforehand for whether or not giving money to this person had anything to do with my values. I pretty much just gave her that donation because she was my friend. But if you really stopped to think about where you want your money to go, and where you want your money to make the most impact, wouldn’t that be more empowering?

As an individual or a family, look at how powerful it is to be able to say, “One of my/our values is ABC, and therefore I/we gave 1.7% of my income to XYZ organization. ” (Fill in “ABC” with your values, and”XYZ” with your favorite nonprofit org that aligns with those values.)

Now that’s really putting your money where your mouth is.

Imagine if we built this culture of giving into our families… No matter how big or small your family income is, what an important lesson it would be for our children! Maybe for your child’s/sibling’s/parents’ next birthday present, you can give him/her the power to give money to their favorite cause.

Anyway, just some food for thought during this nice long weekend. Anyone out there have a personal/family philanthropy plan that you swear by?

One thought on “Personal Philanthropy Plans”

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