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Become a strategic philanthropist

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By Beth Briggs

Philanthropy is a big word that describes that inherent desire in each of us to help one another, to give back and do something for someone else.

It comes from the Greek philanthrOpos, “phil” meaning loving and “anthrOpos” referring to human beings.

Congratulations: You are a philanthropist because you give.

Giving time, skills, talents, ideas and treasure makes life worth living.

Doing something for others, research shows, brings greater happiness and joy and extends life expectancy.

Celebrate and honor the power of your philanthropy.

The following steps help you become more strategic and focused will enhance one of the most rewarding aspects of your life:

Connect to your passion.

Identify, prioritize, and write down three issues that you really care about and speak to your heart.

It might involve children, the elderly, education, dropout rates, animals, the arts, sports, domestic violence, the environment, substance abuse, social justice, racial or gender inequities.

Research programs in your community that address those three topics.

Use the Internet, the phonebook, call your local United Way or community foundation, SPCA, Red Cross, local health department, regional newspaper, or school system.

The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits’ website is a wonderful resource to access nonprofits in your county.

With more than 300,000 nonprofits registered with the IRS, there is an organization addressing those issues.

Identify your gifts, skills and talents.

Write down and prioritize a list of the gifts you have to share.

Can you cook, do you like to read stories, are you bilingual, can you sing, play an instrument, draw, do crafts, play or coach sports, write an article, drive a car, dance, listen, knit, babysit, use a computer or understand technology?  Perhaps you have financial resources and can write a check.

Match your talents and skills with an organization and find out how you can help.

Invest your passion and skills with an organization in your community.

Call them and offer your time, talent and treasure.

If the first organization cannot use you now, ask them to contact you later and call the next organization on the list.

There is an organization looking for help from someone just like you.

Be thankful for the gifts you have been given and share them with an open heart.

The best part about giving is the return on investment because whatever you give comes back tenfold.

Have fun and really enjoy your power as a philanthropist.

We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill


Beth Briggs is president of Creative Philanthropy, a North Carolina-based organization with a mission to expand philanthropy.

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