Philanthropy is still very mysterious for many people. It’s hard to understand why some people prefer social return over financial on their investments, or why broad societal impact becomes far more important than personal benefits. Me myself got involved into it 5 years ago, still learning a lot and diving deeper and deeper and would like to share or, rather, decompose evolution of philanthropy into three stages.
The first stage—where many people remain all their lives—is the transactional level of giving. An organization asks for a donation, and you make your contribution. There’s nothing wrong with that. But some of us discover we want to go deeper. Maybe it’s a result of maturity and the self-examination that goes with it. You want to learn more about the meaning of life, and this desire leads you into an extended connection with one or more philanthropic causes. That’s the second stage—the stage where you find yourself helping to build organizations, involving others in giving, and recruiting supporters from business and government. And here comes the third stage in philanthropic evolution. It’s the stage in which a person is working to create true partnerships around humanitarian efforts. And partnering, of course, is easy to talk about but hard to do. True partnership demands so much of you as an individual. It means constantly giving of your time, your energy, and relationships. It means lowering your ego, learning to really listen, ignoring hierarchy, and holding yourself and others responsible for the outcomes of the work.
Whatever your own preferrences are just select a cause or causes you are most passionate about and start doing it. Believe me, it’s engaging and rewarding.
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Philanthropy is a buyers’ market, and nonprofit leaders are seldom in a position to negotiate aggressively with potential donors. On the contrary, the selection process is (and feels) quite one sided, as though potential grantees are participating in a beauty contest in which the only imperative is to please the judges. So, for better or worse, the views of an individual donor (especially a very large one) can strongly influence grantee behavior. Often this influence will take the form of tweaks to an existing program, or the addition of a new activity, more or less aligned with the nonprofit’s existing strategy, about which a leading donor is enthusiastic. When such an intervention is supported on the donor’s part by deep knowledge of the field, it can provide helpful input to the grantee’s strategy.
Friday has started with an email from the Ministry of Social Affairs:
We would like to inform you your project was reviewed by our experts, it met all requirements and we would like to offer you to sign financing agreement.
That means M. Čiuželio labdaros ir paramos fondas (M. Ciuzelis Charity Foundation) won the biggest in its 5 years history financing tender for Sidabrinė linija (the Silver Line) - a free of charge be-friending and support helpline providing information, friendship and advise for the old age people. Without any further conditions, the way we presented and wished to implement our project.
The day just couldn’t be any better. Thank you
When you celebrate your birthday, how you behave: are you expecting gifts or rather send them yourselves to your friends, partners, relatives - everyone who followed (and still follows) you through your life journey?
At Sidabrine linija we celebrate sending our gratitudes to everyone who shares the same mission or passion or just an idea to help elderly live longer, healthier, better lives.
We will celebrate our forth anniversary next week. With 600+ friends. And our small gifts to all of them are under way already.
A subtle shift from “against” to “for” is enormously powerful. Gandhi famously spoke of this in his talks and writings: “It’s not that I’m against British rule. It’s that I am for Indian independence.” When we are clear that our goal is for something, we stop moving away from something negative and start moving toward something positive. This kind of movement has a whole different quality to it—a quality of gentleness, generosity, and light.
At Sidabrine linija we do not fight old age people loneliness (we are not “against” it) but rather offer them a friend to talk to, an emotional support when needed and that helps to create a huge positive impact in their daily lives.