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Eye Opening & Practical at the Same Time
on October 25, 2011
Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen's Giving 2.0 provides an eye opening and practical read on new ways and methods to give. Here are my personal takeaways from Giving 2.0:
1) Anyone can be a philanthropist - if you give away $1 a year or 1 hour of your time, guess what? You're a philanthropist.
2) You have much more to give than you think. Most people think of giving as giving money or time. But in Giving 2.0, you quickly realize that those definitions are much too narrow. Through dozens and dozens of examples and stories, you can see how contributing expertise, giving a loan (instead of a donation), volunteering online, giving to solve long term structural problems or giving to solve short-term emergency ones are all different ways of giving. WIth so many new options available, and so many examples that pave the way, it's easier than ever to give in a way that's make sense for you.
3) Give strategically -- Think carefully about who you are, what you're passionate about, and how you might benefit from your own form of philanthropy. At the end of each chapter in Giving 2.0, there are a list of questions -- questions to ask yourself and questions to ask the organizations you might choose to give to. I found the questions to ask one's self to be the most helpful to me. What do I care about? Where does my time go during my week? What am I good at doing? What am I passionate about? These questions prompt you to think very critically about how to give strategically and pro-actively, instead of just giving in a haphazard disorganized way.
By understanding yourself well (which is the basis of any strategy), you can find a way to give that's both easy and rewarding. For example, I found Arrillaga-Andreessen examples of how interweaving giving and parenting (something I care a lot about as a Dad). She points out and gives examples of incorporating giving into children's allowances, taking international "volunteering-vacations" with one's kids, using giving as a way to teach the values you believe in, involving children in deciding how to give away one's quarterly giving budget, etc... As a busy working Dad, I find it hard to find the the time to work, give and parent. My takeaway was why not combine all three?
For someone else, the strategy might be donate one's expertise -- as a way to say keep career skills sharp during a stint of unemployment or perhaps as a retirement career. Sometimes giving what you know is more valuable than giving how much you can afford to donate financially.
For others, the strategy might revolve around a key issue that's near and dear to one's heart -- disease prevention, addressing domestic violence, issues in education.
My personal takeaways aside, the underlying message of Giving 2.0 is that each of us should find our own personalized giving strategy that makes sense for us. This strategy should based on who we are, what we care about, and the totality of what we have to give (financially and non-financially). Arrillaga-Andreessen then shows us a range of options available to us (with numerous interesting anecdotes), so that in the span of a few pages we can make more strategic giving choices more conveniently and easily.
Whether you are donating a few hours of time a year, or setting up a family foundation (and everything in between), there is something for everyone in Giving 2.0. I highly recommend it.