For most people, having a new car or an attractive house is a fantastic status symbol. For the super rich, it’s increasingly difficult to make a statement through possessions, but what really can make people stand out is philanthropy. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s enjoying a new wave of popularity – and once bitten by the bug, those who use their money to help others often find that they get drawn in at a personal level too. The face of philanthropy is changing and that’s something that could benefit everyone.
The new philanthropy
Gone are the days when a philanthropic gesture simply meant handing over a cheque and holding a quick press conference. The new philanthropy is very much hands-on. By getting directly connected with the projects they support, today’s self-made business success stories are discovering that their top level skills can also be of use in the third sector, transforming the way charities do business. In return they get to play a direct part in those organisations’ stories and experience the joy of watching their support transform lives.
Jennifer Douglas Abubakar
One philanthropist who is ahead of the curve in her hands on work is Nigerian American Jennifer Douglas Abubakar. As the founder of Gede Foundation, she has not only used her money but also her business skills and drive to bring vital support services to mentally ill people in Africa, especially those affected by HIV or AIDS. Her experience in working with political players at the top level has helped to get these issues onto the agenda and ensure that the lives of these vulnerable people are valued as much as anyone else’s.
When it comes to making donations – including the kind that ordinary people get involved with – what matters is not just how much is given but also how it’s used. By using their skills to improve the efficiency of the organisations they get involved with, philanthropists can make sure that money goes a lot further. They can help third sector organisations to coordinate effectively with governments and with one another, and they can improve their business connections, helping them secure better deals when it comes to logistics. Skilled business leaders can also strengthen the teams that make charity work happen, and can improve their on-going prospects by setting up investment funds to give them reliable sources of income.
Connections like this help to develop a relationship between philanthropist and charity which is far more profitable for both, and which better suits the way most people prefer to do business in the modern age. It’s one of the most effective ways for those who have made money to utilise it in ways that will really change the world. For charities, it means access to top-level talent and the ability to compete against other major organisations, which may not share their altruistic motives. In short, philanthropists get to take on new challenges and those in the most challenging situations of all get the help they need.