When you hear the words “charitable giving,” something very specific may come to mind. Maybe you think of an annual donation you make at the office, or a faith-based initiative to which you’ve contributed. But changes have been taking place in how and why we give, changes that are broadening our understanding. In fact, the way many of us look at our charitable giving—even the words we use to describe it—are changing. The focus used to be on giving money to large causes. Increasingly, donors want to invest their money or skills to create opportunities for others.
The truth is, those with charitable intent have been asked to write checks for so long, and so often, that questions have emerged among donors: “Who am I giving this money to, what impact will it have, and who will hold the recipient accountable for positive results?”
Though the days of writing a check are by no means gone, this new approach better answers those questions, centering on what can be achieved, and how “generosity” can create “social capital.” This new perspective on giving is life-changing; with this approach, you can actually create opportunities with lasting impact.
Micro-Lending, for instance, and similar projects that create sustainable businesses, are on the rise. Donors and entrepreneurs who fund such work want to create something sustainable, with a lasting impact. They don’t want the gift to be an end in itself.
Creating social capital opens doors to people who may not have thought about the impact of their giving. Jerry Foster, founder of Foster Group, a wealth management and investment advisory firm, says, “Generosity can be a tool for changing the way people view the world, while also transforming their hearts. People don’t often view generosity in a transformative way. But when generosity is seen differently, as life-changing and transformational, it liberates those who give and those who receive. This can multiply the effect of the gift.”
People love to give to all sorts of causes and for very different reasons. Some are intrigued by creating opportunities with social capital, while others give to minimize tax implications. Whatever the case is for you, remember that when you give it can become an expression of your individual passion. Your giving can provide opportunities for others that can transform their lives.
Things have changed. People are becoming more intentional. They think more about ways to give and change they can create, rather than simply reacting to an appeal. They want to make a bigger difference, and the return on investment they seek is not merely financial in nature. Instead, they’re looking for a meaningful return on their generosity, and the social capital it creates.
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