I could begin with a concrete definition of philanthropy, but perceptions of what philanthropy is and the simple act of giving resonates differently with everyone. I do not think of philanthropy as charity. Giving money to the needy is great, but using time and money to direct people to a better life is the goal of a philanthropist. The challenge for philanthropists is deciding where they should direct their resources. How does someone choose between helping two or more worthy causes? I have been faced with this challenge through my involvement with Care2.
Care2 has been a part of my life for the past two years. I have participated in programs, including the service learning summer program, the youth philanthropy program, and worked as a Care2 office intern. Care2 has introduced me to nonprofits locally and worldwide that do everything from providing therapy and other psychological services to war affected children, educational assistance to children from DC to Israel, and to many organizations that with some financial resources could expand their help to a wider community of people. Who am I to judge if a group of children devastated by rocket attacks in Israel needs their grant funded more than a local fire department that was looking up addresses in a torn, outdated book of maps? Is it more important to help the causes closer to me in proximity? The reality for a philanthropist is that for every act of altruism they do, there will always be thousands of other causes that are just as worthy.
Care2 has opened me up to the aspects of philanthropy that I never would have considered before. This year, we were asked to set our own funding priorities and to consider what aspects of a project the grant money was going to. I was challenged to realize that many times the cost of overhead is just as important to fund as a specific project. We had heated debates about the organizations we were considering and had to learn how to come to a consensus. The best thing I took away from Care2 is that no matter where our money went, it helped to make a difference.
Philanthropy is a way for anyone to change the future. Anyone, even a group of teenagers on a Sunday afternoon, can make decisions that will help heal the world.