No one could have predicted the impact of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic on our world, with the staggering number of fatalities, and with schools, businesses, and cities shut.
The generous support of individuals, for profit, and not-for-profit organisations to try to turn the tide against the dreaded virus described as the worst disaster that has befallen the world since the 2nd World War, is already evident. Yet many sit on the side-lines and assume that philanthropy or charitable giving is an activity only for the very rich. This is not so.
You might not be able to donate 1,000 beds or an entire ICU centre or fund much-needed life insurance policies for our heroic health care workers the way some of our great organizations are doing, but each one of us, as individuals, can play our part. We can and must all be involved in the herculean effort to avert a crisis beyond imagination.
A philanthropist is “someone who donates his or her time, money, and/or reputation to charitable causes”. Philanthropy affords one the opportunity and privilege of making a positive impact in society to shape or even save lives. By giving to community, the arts, cultural, sports, religious, and civic organizations, we are in a position to be deliberately involved in causes that we believe in.
Philanthropy takes on many forms. It is our individual response to human need; it is about caring and serving; an opportunity to be involved. It can be through direct giving, or through impact-investing which combines the profit motive of traditional investing with the social and developmental outcomes of philanthropy.
Reflect upon how you can support our government in its efforts to stop the insidious spread of Covid-19. How can we come together to assist our fellow citizens, particularly the millions that are the most vulnerable at this time, as their daily living depends on a daily income; if they stay home, they don’t eat. None of us need look too far to see the desperate need.
As you give, be mindful of the fact that sadly, even in such extreme and dire situations, there will always be unscrupulous individuals and groups who will try to take advantage of your generosity. If you are not in a position to lead an initiative yourself, focus your giving to credible public and private sector-led organizations or initiatives that have the ability to oversee the strategic and judicious utilization of the funds raised and that can ensure that funds are applied for maximum impact.
Giving does not mean that you must give only financially; there are several other ways to give in a meaningful way. The possibilities of giving of your time, experience, talent and intellect are vast and by sharing your knowledge with others, you can add value to your community in this way.
This time provides a great opportunity to involve your children in philanthropy from an early age as they are at home and witnessing the drastic change in all our lives. It is not enough to just tell them to be charitable and kind; our own actions in supporting others will speak louder than any thing we can ever say. We must guide them through a program of action so that it becomes ingrained in their psyche and in their lives. Giving some attention to the present situation will teach them a powerful and vivid real-life lesson, that their personal money or posessions, no matter how little, can have a positive effect on the wellbeing of others.
Embed the gift of giving into your financial plan. Determine what types of initiatives you wish to support and then review your finances to decide how much you can afford to give. Will it be a one-off donation or is it something you can continue to commit to even after this pandemic is behind us. Narrow your choices down to a few charitable organizations and initiatives that you feel comfortable with; do your due diligence on their stakeholders, ethos and track record.
It may seem absurd to suggest that one should give in the midst of such uncertainty, yet it is during trying times when your finances may seem so stretched and unpredictable that you are forced to look inwards at what security really means and what is truly important in your life. The focus shouldn’t be only on making and saving money for oneself. Fortunately, challenging times compel us to recognize the true value that we hold as human beings and what makes us more successful, effective, balanced, and fulfilled people.
Make philanthropy a part of your personal and business financial plan. By deciding to make a difference in someone else’s life, you can bring so much more meaning, value, and a lasting form of happiness to your own. It is time to stop and be still, and to make a difference.
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