Rich people&coronavirus…YouMe&philanthropy

April 20, 2020

This lengthy article is the result of reading an article by Andy Serwer with Max Zahn: “Why the rent is due for rich people in the time of the coronavirus.”  Read the Serwer/Zahn article first.

And now, watch out, I’m going to babble and even lecture a bit. You know me…the Simone Uncensored bitch…So here goes……………….

………….An Article in the time of the Coronavirus…from Simone Joyaux…………..   

Philanthropy….From the Greek, philanthropia. Love of humankind. But my favorite definition of philanthropy comes from John Gardner, voluntary action for the common good.

Doesn’t matter if it’s $10 or $25 million. Voluntarily taking action for the common good. Common good…community…Concept of civil society.

And, of course, philanthropy means giving money AND/OR!!!! time.

Of course I want the very rich to give lots of money. Especially as millions of people worldwide are losing their jobs, closing their businesses…

However, I must say that I’m really tired of the focus on big money and big news, e.g., disasters like a hurricane or coronavirus. Because shit happens every day and people have been starving for decades and living on the streets and guns keep killing kids and college is too expensive and there’s no universal healthcare. And in the USA, only 2% or so of GDP has gone to charity during the past 60 years. (I hope you read Giving USA, the annual report.)

Ah, the big money…Certainly the culture of the US of A. Money money money…The celebrity of wealth. Big money always seems to win. What a terrible culture.

One of my pet peeves is the phrase “major donor” and “major gift”… All that money that those wealthy people give/gave… I’m pretty damn sure it didn’t change their lives at all. I’d like everyone to think of the mother at the charter school (former client of mine) who gave 5 single dollar bills to the school where her child goes. And that money would have been spent on her family’s special holiday dessert. But she and her family gave the gift to the school instead.

Yes, I want those wealthy peeps to give and give more and give regularly. But I want every country and every person and everyone to respect the others who give time and money. Shall we call them the minor donors? Because if there are major donors, there must be minor donors. WTF!!

Here’s something I think about always…. Philanthropy…. VOLUNTARY action for the common goodSo I want everyone – especially those who have excess money – to choose to give.

And I suppose that I could say that since really wealthy people made their money from their communities … I’d like to think that those very wealthy people actually think that – on a pretty substantial level – that they actually “owe” care and voluntary action for the COMMON good.

In my deepest hopeful world, I dream that all people look at themselves and wonder what they might do for the common good. 

  • Obligations like voting – civic duty – building a civil society. Read Mike Edwards’ books about civil society.
  • DEFINITELY read Mike’s book Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the WorldTo me, this book is a must read for anyone who works in philanthropy. And I’m thinking a must read for all of us in society. Because for-profit business isn’t going to save any world…any community.

In my deepest soul, I dream that each of us and all of us look at others as human beings…with basic human rights…That we all fight for social justice…welcome inclusion…demand equity. And all that is built by a civil society…promoted through philanthropy…Voluntary action for the common good. That’s what I keep fighting for.

  • I respect the mother who gave those $5 to her children’s school.
  • I’m thankful that some really RICH people are giving money now…and I dream that they will give in the future as regular philanthropists.

I look at Tom and me…We aren’t Bezos or any of the other names in the article, “Why the rent is due for rich people in the time of coronavirus.” But we’ve worked hard for years and have no children and live life well — and we’re damn affluent!

Tom and I are so fortunate. We’ve saved enough to retire well, too. We have no children and no one who needs care from us. So 100% of our estate goes to charity. And every year we give approximately 20% of our income to charity. Why not? We have the money!

Philanthropy…Voluntary action for the common good. And there’s the challenge. I do believe that philanthropy is voluntary. In my dream world, everyone who can is philanthropic in some way. 

  • Giving time at the Food Bank or Planned Parenthood or that environmental org you love
  • Giving money to the charter school, to fight for women’s rights and against birth defects, to save the land and the water…to fight against the coronavirus…

Everyone gives for his/her/their own reasons … whether it’s businesses, foundations, individuals… You and your family, Tom and me.

  • Yes, some give charitable gifts to get their names broadcast around town and even around the world. Some give to get positive PR…to compensate for bad actions… for glory and fame…
  • Some give because they want to serve on the most famous/important board in the community.
  • Some give to fight homelessness – perhaps that person was once homeless or knew someone…
  • Others give because they love the land and water and worry about climate change and…

I’ve worked in the philanthropic sector for 45 years. It’s not my right to tell others where to give. It’s not my right to evaluate your choices.

I can hope that you give. I do hope you choose philanthropy – voluntary action for the common good – to be in your life. 

I have chosen philanthropy – even when I die…and am dead.

P.S. An interesting, perhaps, P.S. Based on their own missions, some charities won’t accept gifts if the proposed donor(s) have “tainted” money. Tobacco companies intentionally addicted people…so have some drug companies. Imagine the conversation that cancer and lung associations had and may still have, should we accept gifts from those businesses.

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, FAFP, Certificate in Philanthropic Psychology is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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