The following is a guest post about being a philanthropist. If interested in submitting a guest post, please read my guest posting policy and then contact me.
It’s not just about growing your wealth; it’s about giving it away—and making a difference.
Have you ever heard “It’s better to give than receive?” Well, we certainly can’t give without receiving. But the purpose of accumulating wealth should be more than winning a rat race or buying bigger toys. Life’s greatest satisfactions can come from giving away—from investing in someone other than ourselves.
Do you have to be a devoted philanthropist to be happy? If you want to be a well-known and remarkable one, then yes. But it doesn’t take millions and your face in a magazine to invest in a non-profit. You can start small—even by investing in one homeless person on the street.
You may not be aiming to become a billionaire who invests massive wealth in curing AIDS or ridding the world of poverty. Bill Gates is well-known for making a difference with his societal investments. And you can be remembered too—even if it’s by one person or one family.
Making a Difference—Become An Upstart Philanthropist
Many readers of Modest Money have an entrepreneurial fervor. Maybe we work a full-time job, but many of us know how to be frugal and grow our wealth to fulfill personal dreams and opportunities. Why not take the same entrepreneurial zeal and philosophy and apply it to making a difference in people’s lives? You don’t have to work full-time as a missionary, in a soup kitchen, or in a lab fighting cancer to do this. Becoming an upstart at anything—a restauranteur, a carpet cleaner, a cabinet maker, even a philanthropist doesn’t take 60 hours a week to start.
If you want to invest yourself in making a difference, here’s some upstart ways to begin:
1. Start Small
Don’t feel like you must find the world’s perfect non-profit to invest in upfront.
Yes, do your research before giving your hard-earned cash away to non-profits. Look at their overhead and their fundraising expenses. Are they accountable? Are they making a tangible difference? (This is an article in itself that we can’t dive into here).
But you don’t have to do all of the above to invest financially one-time to make a difference. In fact, you don’t have to start by investing money at all. You can:
- Donate blood
- Donate food
- Donate time—this is a great activity to share with you children if you are a parent. Lots of life lessons to instill!
- Find someone to invest in.
2. Make a Difference With One Person
The world’s problems sometimes seem much too big to make a dent in. Don’t feel like you need to conquer the world’s problems. Help one person or family conquer theirs.
I give water and food to homeless folk all the time. As an experience, I once slept on the street with the homeless on a dewy February night in downtown San Diego. One night was hard. I was so hungry and thirsty the next morning. I can’t imagine having the energy to go get water, food, a shower, clean clothes, and then try to find a job. It’s tough. So a handout of food helps these folks out.
What’s one step better? Helping the same person over and over. If you can help one man, woman or child emerge from poverty—or other dire straits—do it. It’s not complicated. If on your routine drive you see the same person asking for food each day, get to know them at lunch sometime. If they have some vision to get out of their situation (and I’m positive they will), encourage them and give them some consistent help. Small steps make a difference. Maybe it’s not a homeless person you help, maybe it’s a person at the office who’s beset by tough times or a death in the family.
3. Invest Yourself Into An Organization
If you want to take your upstart philanthropy to the next level of making a difference, consider committing a set amount of time to help a non-profit. Find one that you can be passionate about, and volunteer.
4. Invest Financially Into Philanthropic Work
Every financially minded person knows they must research before making an investment that they expect to pay off. It’s no difference with philanthropic work.
Companies can do a lot of the leg-work for you when researching who to invest in. Whether it’s creating a lasting gift to help individuals and families, helping your own clients or staff give, understanding charities and non-profits, these companies can help you maximize and feel secure about your philanthropic gifts making a difference.
The Upstart Philanthropist
Don’t worry, we all know none of us have all of life figured out. But as we are working to grow our money modestly, let’s figure out how we can help people along their journey. Even if no one notices, you’ll know that you made a difference.
I’ll leave you with this thought from the film Cloud Atlas:
Haskell Moore: “And for what? For what? No matter what you do, it will never amount to anything more than a single drop in a limitless ocean?”
Adam Ewing: “What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
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