Philanthropy has become a buzzword in recent years, but the idea behind it-that we’re obligated to give back to our communities and the world-has been around forever. In fact, societies from all around the world have been practising philanthropy for millennia, but how exactly does it work? And what does it mean for you and your community? How can you donate to charity to make a difference? This article aims to answer those questions and more about why philanthropy matters now more than ever before.
Why Philanthropy Matters: The Importance of Giving Back
People are giving more, but what do they care about?
American philanthropists gave roughly $373 billion in 2014, 87% of people say that giving back is important to them, over half (52%) say they plan on increasing their donations over the next year. So how do you leverage these numbers to find out what people care about? You could ask your audience for feedback, but chances are you’ll get a lot of general answers and opinions-and few specific ones. Instead, use data to get real insights into why people give. What causes are most popular? Where do people want their money going? What companies or nonprofits have been most successful at fundraising campaigns? Once you know where donors want their money going, you can create campaigns that speak directly to those interests. That way, when someone gives money through your campaign or organisation they feel like they’re making a difference and supporting something they believe in-which will make them more likely to give again.
Nonprofits need more help than ever to meet demand
With 7 in 10 Americans donating to charities, and with over 500 million people worldwide having volunteered their time, it’s clear that many are passionate about helping others. Yet nonprofits today need more help than ever before to meet demand. For example, 28% of all people around the world live on less than $1.25 a day-and 1 out of 5 live in extreme poverty (living on less than $0.50 a day). Food insecurity affects 40 million American households and almost 50 million Americans can’t read or write. In order to help these people and change the world more and more nonprofits need support.
How you can be more aware about your giving
If you’re a young professional, it’s easy to feel like there are no problems in your world that other people don’t have. And sometimes giving back seems less important than achieving your career goals. But if you start to pay attention, it becomes clear how many opportunities there are for micro-philanthropy-small acts of kindness and charity that bring joy to other people but can also work wonders for your own happiness. In fact, studies show that altruism is linked with greater life satisfaction and improved physical health. So get out there and do some good.
How to get started with giving back
Your first instinct may be to start researching charities and nonprofits, but not just yet. While giving back is a worthy endeavour and should be treated as such, you need to focus on two things before writing your first check or signing up for your first volunteering gig. First, you need to learn about yourself and what you want to get out of giving back. You may want to make a difference by providing free tutoring sessions at an inner-city school or taking part in medical research projects. And that’s fine-except that you’ll likely have more success if you pursue something that reflects your skills and interests. For example, if you’re good with computers, you might decide to volunteer your time at a local non-profit focused on computer literacy. Second, it’s important to think about how much time and energy you can devote to philanthropic activities. For some people, one hour per week will suffice; others might feel compelled to give more than 20 hours per week. Either way is great-but it’s important that you’re honest with yourself about how much time you can devote so that you don’t overcommit and burn out.
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