Encouraging charitable and philanthropic giving

Encouraging both charitable and philanthropic giving

Today, it’s more important than ever to start encouraging charitable and philanthropic giving in your community. 

Today, charity covers giving money, goods or time to alleviate the suffering of others. “Charity” comes from an old French word (Charite) meaning “providing for those in need; generosity and giving”. Charity is how we show compassion for people displaced by natural disasters, or support victims of violence. It is the canned goods and biscuits sent in for the Christmas hamper drive at school, and the outgrown clothes taken to the clothing bin. It is the loose change dropped in a bucket at the cricket, the $1.05 round-up donation at the shop to help match abandoned animals with loving homes, the office bring-a-plate morning tea fundraiser or immediate personal or corporate donation in the wake of a disaster. We give because we feel a moral obligation to do so, because we feel empathy for others, and because we want to do something to relieve the pain of a particular social problem.

For those of you wanting to encourage a charitable giving culture at home or work, remember that empathy, and feeling better ourselves by giving to others to relieve their pain or suffering, is a key donation driver.

For example, if you’re hoping your children will learn to be generous by handing over some of their pocket money to drought relief, you’ll probably get a better result speaking with them about their money helping to buy hay for hungry horses, rather than providing mental health support for a struggling farmer. If you’re organising a fundraiser at work, tie the message into something your colleagues will identify with, that will elicit an empathetic response — ensuring a meal will be on the table every day, or that a child receives the health care they need, despite family circumstance.

Philanthropy, on the other hand, is a private (as opposed to government) action addressing the root cause of a problem itself. It is an idea or activity undertaken to make the world a better place for the longer term — enabling communities to grow their own food, rather than providing nutritional supplements for the starving, or removing barriers to education and future employment, instead of  buying blankets and meals for destitute people.

Generally, philanthropic giving involves a combination of emotive response combined with very logical, longer term thinking. It is usually emotion that generates interest in a cause area — perhaps a gut-reaction to a news story, or a personal life experience – followed by consideration of what has caused that situation, its on-going implications, and what could be done to either prevent the problem in the first place, or to stop the circumstances growing ever-worse across lifetimes.

Encouraging young people to think philanthropically, as well as charitably, can start as simply as speaking with them about topical events (it doesn’t matter if it’s a global issue or a contained close-to-home problem), and asking questions about the cause and potential interventions.

For a younger child, it could be a conversation centred on the importance and love of reading and learning, resulting in the cheerful donation of their outgrown books to others.

For an adolescent, it could be talking about and understanding their own experience of being lonely or bullied, that leads them to conceptualise and fundraise for a peer support program at their school.

Workplaces offer similar opportunities for philanthropic thinking and giving. A colleague with a life-threatening health diagnosis may not feel comfortable with a workplace fundraiser supporting their personal battle, but they may be very happy to raise awareness and support ongoing activities funding research into cures — it is an emotive response to a personal issue (for the person diagnosed, and their colleagues), that moves beyond the immediate suffering to address the underlying cause of that suffering.

Our observation of successful workplace giving and CSR activities is that those combining employees’ personal interests, experiences and emotive responses to cause areas, with some or all funds directed to long term problem solving rather than just to immediate relief of suffering, are more strongly supported by employees, easier to sustain for organisations, and lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction, than more ad hoc or management-directed activities.

As an organisation that relieves immediate suffering for individual children and families, and simultaneously works to build the long-term capacity of individuals and communities, Royal Far West ticks both the charitable and philanthropic giving boxes. We welcome your enquiries and support at any time.

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