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"To give away money is an easy matter and in any man's power. But to decide to whom to give it and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man's power nor an easy matter." - Aristotle
To understand the truest nature of philanthropy is to understand the morality behind the purpose of giving money (or the giving of anything really). As Aristotle so eloquently put in the quote above, anyone can give money away, but what matters with this is where and to whom is the money going. It is the moral purpose behind the giving that counts beyond the actual giving of money.
Paul Schervish writes about us all having a "Moral Biography" - "Moral biography refers to the way all individuals conscientiously combine two elements in daily life: personal capacity and moral compass." In other words, we have to take our character and our capacity for giving (in a physical sense) to come to a moral decision about how, when, where we give what we can give. It is about taking the wealth that we acquire (to whatever level that wealth stands) and using it for good; by moving beyond just taking care of the basics, giving provides a mutual wellbeing, to the giver and the receiver.
I believe that most people have a moral biography when it comes to wealth and that they are more generous than they realise. You just have to look at the responses to the multitude of tragedies that have happened, not just in the UK, but around the world. When people recognise that others are in hardship, most people will dig as deep as they can to help, assist, and support. Of course, this doesn't mean that we can support all causes and people - a moral biography is made up of your character and your means, meaning you can only support as far as, you are still able to support yourself. This means that you have to undertake a practice of giving (or philanthropy) that is based on where you heart is directed, resting assured that other causes are supported by those whose heart lead them in that direction.
This philanthropy month I have followed my character, my moral virtues, and my heart, bound within the means in which I live, and I have given to a friend, a tragedy, and a charity. Where does your moral biography direct you?
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As I sit here this morning, cup of green tea in hand, my uni readings opened and notepad ready to make notes, a random though popped into my head - is philanthropy a cycle?
When I think about money and giving and caring for those you love, I consider the lengths that we would go to to support those that mean a lot to us, but also the lengths that they go to to return the favour. There seems to me to be a back and forth kind of approach to personal philanthropy within family and friend groups. This mutual support is a beautiful thing; that want for the other to be okay, so be safe, to be cared for. I must say that money exchanged is generally with the mutual proviso that it will be repaid.... so unlike a true philanthropic gesture, where the money is given with no expectation of being returned (I only wish I could be this generous at the moment), this truly is, what I now call, a philanthropy cycle.
My current philanthropic cycle is quite mixed, I won't talk about specifics here, but there have been loans of financial support, for me, and my giving support to others, especially over the past two years.
To my peeps who are in the know I thank you for your support/I love being able to support you and help.
A philanthropy cycle, and philanthropy in general, I believe, can be beyond the scope of money. Being conscious of this means that you can look for those opportunities that are present everyday, to give. To give in simple and/or big ways.
One way is to offer to pay for dinner for a friend.
Another is to buy a little "just because" gift for a friend (maybe it is something you have noticed they need, but can't afford to get it themselves...)
A perfect way is to support a friend's business, whether via money or marketing support....
These three things I have done on a conscious level, to understand that this form of philanthropy is some way that I can make a difference, in the best possible way.
Do you have any thoughts about philanthropy as a cycle? Let me know below.
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My head felt enclosed, tight, small, each chink plugged with spirit gum.
Outside felt just out of reach, like a tenuous grasp, lingering;
each bird that sang, tutted, and tweeted, it was as though they were there
right in my ear, whilst also elusively beyond my reckoning.
Nostalgia hit like the downfall of rain that bashed against the flagstones in the courtyard.
And still my breath took me with it, took me through the melancholy, through
The other side was like a wave of happiness, sunlight glinting through the apple tree leaves.
Green has such a special note to it.
Meditation had alluded me the past few months, like a longing that I wanted, but not enough. The desire was there, but the motivation was lacking.
8 Days I am back in the game, and I can feel myself sink back into the familiarity of the endlessness of my "self."
(image from Pixabay)
June is all about philanthropy.
My Granddad was born and raised in Glasgow. He was born and raised in tenements, which were more often then not overcrowded with poor sanitation, and the people living there with not much hope for flourishing in life. He was about 20, working on the docks, when a gentleman approached him and other young men with an offer - move to the other side of the world, passage paid for, and work in the docks in Sydney Harbour. I cannot imagine what that opportunity must have felt like for these young men; Sydney, Australia must have felt like a bright spark of sunlight in the dreariness of a foggy and polluted Glasgow; an adventure was to be had, and my Granddad was up for it. So, with the help of a wealthy philanthropist, my Granddad moved to Australia, worked hard, met my Nan, had my Aunty and my Mum, and the rest is history, so to speak. I wouldn't be here without that philanthropist, he changed my Granddad's life, and helped to create mine.
So what is Philanthropy?
According to the Oxford dictionary it is: "The desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes."
What I want to explore this month is that "especially." Philanthropy is often seen as the generous offer of money to assist someone in terms of life improvement/wellbeing/flourishing, but can you be a philanthropist by giving in other ways?
I have given money to causes that I believe in, and we see this giving of money for causes every day - in fact one of the most moving giving of money to a cause was very recent, this Sunday just gone, when Ariana Grande raised money through her One Love Manchester concert for victims of the awful terrorist bombing at her concert a few weeks ago. In fact the concert and donation drive has raised over 9 Million pounds thus far, and shows the true generosity of people in the face of tragedy.
We can give in big ways, such as the above, but we can also give in smaller ways, and be philanthropic everyday, when we see the person struggling to find coins to pay for parking, or we offer to cover a friend's dinner if we know they needed an evening out, but couldn't afford it at that time.
In embracing philanthropy this month I aim to give, money-wise, to causes and events I believe in, but I also want to explore how I can be philanthropic beyond money, and try and understand what this means for myself and others.
(To kick-start my philanthropy month I have donated a pay-it-forward ticket to Anj Handa's "Inspiring Women Changemakers Non-Awards evening." This awards evening will showcase inspiring stories that will inspire change and collaboration as we try to make our world a better place. Consider buying a pay-it-forward ticket here - Inspiring Women Changemakers - and consider attending yourself!
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Do you know what it means to really listen to your friends? To really hear and engage with what they are saying? Do you know the impact this can have on your relationships?
I remember in primary school one of my friend's said to me "your really good at listening." I can't remember the context of the moment - I have an image in my head, a memory, of sitting with my friend and patting her back, and just listening as she poured her heart out. And whilst I definitely have my moments of chatter and word vomiting (you know, literally not being able to shut up), most of the time I just listen..... respond if needed.... then listen some more. I personally find it easier to listen to people and engage on that level, than letting conversation fly about in a superficial way. (Disclaimer: there will always be need for lighter, superficial conversation, but it is not for all conversation). Listening is a skill that you have to develop, especially when wanting to build good, solid relationships with people.
Normal communication in friendships can involve interruptions, misinterpretations, and miscommunications - all things that could derail friendships. One way to ensure your friendships aren't derailed by any of these things is to develop your listening skills by engaging in active listening.
Active listening involves these aspects:
1. Getting rid of distractions - put your phone down, close your laptop up, turn the music down, and engage completely with what the other person is saying. (I'm no saint with this, but I do actively try to put my phone down and close my laptop if I know the conversation is serious).
2. Be mindful and conscious of what is really being said - don't just listen to the words, hear the expression, observe the body language, look into the person's eyes.
3. Don't leap to conclusions (this one I have to work on!) - quite often we go into a conversation thinking we already know what the person is going to say, and instead of hearing what they have really said, we twist the words or expressions to fit out own biases and expectations. Park your preconceived notions at the door, and open your mind.
4. Only give advice if it is asked for - this can be a hard one fore everyone, especially as we often feel that we can save people from making mistakes etc if we offer advice. Often advice isn't what is being sought, a simple shoulder to cry on, or an ear to vent too is needed. Just listen, with no judgement.
On the flip side of listening in friendships is opening oneself up to friends and letting them into your joys and fears. People will open up to you if you open up to them.... this can be hard, but try it, and see how your relationships change and develop, hopefully for the better.