Can You Be A Philanthropist?


Can You Be A Philanthropist?

Many of us may think of philanthropy as something done by billionaires like John D Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffet or Bill Gates who may have initially, set up foundations to outlast themselves.  That certainly is philanthropy working on a large scale and very helpful.   But in reality, philanthropy is practiced every day by thousands of people.  People giving their excess to a needy situation that will help right now and is very satisfying to them and their recipient today.

Some of the very large foundations being created or in existence today have a new business model, one where the foundation may not outlast its founder; one that more closely follows an individual’s day-to-day model. They want to be in control of how their excess gets re-distributed, not leave it to someone to do it later. The Lord blessed them with excess and with that comes a certain level of stewardship and responsibility to help those in need (Note:  not those with less, but those in need) (Read, “An Unconventional Billionaire is Revolutionizing Philanthropy by Closing His Foundation)  Many people like to give and many more people would like to have a say in where that gift gets placed or maybe even how it is used, right away.  Understanding where the donation went, who it helped and what impact on the needy did it have is a large key to attracting donations.

There are many occasions in the world that requires another’s consideration.  This attention can come in many forms and most of us think of this as a donation.  The donations of your time, of your things, of your knowledge and of your money are all needed by others.  The National Center for Charitable Statistics says there were 1,429,801 tax-exempt organizations (966,599 public charities, 96,584 private foundations, 366,618 other types) in the United States alone as of June, 2014. With that many charities around, matching a donation with the right recipient or the right organization can be a challenge.

Making the donations in an area you feel needs help is also a challenge.  Do people always come first?  What about the animals that are in need?  Surely the people come before the animals, right?  What about the environment?  Where does that fit in?

In Genesis 1:28, the Bible states, “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  Then again in Genesis 2:15 the Bible further says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”.

Clearly, it is our responsibility to take care of the animals, the environment and each other.

So why do still see so many in need in the world, so many opportunities to give, to donate?  Well first, the charities listed above represent only those in the United States, not the world and the US only represents about 5% of the world’s population. But even in the US, with all those charitable organizations, we still have many opportunities and more occasions to give of our abundant excess.

In Deuteronomy 15:11, the Bible states, “There will always be poor people in the land”, and in Matthew 26:11 Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you.”

It is clear; we will always have those in need.  It is our responsibility to try and fill those needs as best we can.  Most of us have been in need at one time or another in our lives and maybe that time will come again for some of us.  A “Good Samaritan” may be needed, and hopefully, one will show up.  Hopefully, you will be one of them for someone else.

Several years ago, I volunteered at a local food distribution charity where we broke down large bins of food into small family sized portions that got re-distributed out to those in need.  This seemed to me to be a worthy cause and I was excited to do my share.  After about an hour of working with a group of others and feeling comfortable and happy doing a good thing, I began to notice that we could be running much more efficiently and get much more accomplished.  I wondered why some basic automation had not taken over the jobs almost all our group was doing, so I asked the lead person who worked at this organization that very question.  They stated bluntly, that we have so many people that want to volunteer here, that doing everything by hand gives them something to do and makes them all happy, so we don’t automate these processes.  That answer really made me feel that what I was doing was not helping at all, only making myself feel good about me.

The point I would like to make here is to make sure you understand why you are practicing philanthropy and how are you practicing it.  If you truly want to help, make sure that the wants of the needy are the focus of your generous donation, whatever that is, and you are not simply just out to make yourself feel good.

What do you have to give?  Time?   Money?   Knowledge?   Things?

Give wisely, but give!  It is one of the secrets to true happiness!


Here are four very helpful websites where you can quickly learn more about many charities around the world.

American Institute of Philanthropy

The 50 Largest US Charities

List of Charitable Foundations

Charity Vault


Gary J Kiecker