At one time, philanthropy was generally a practice only available to the uber-wealthy. Philanthropy generally involved the building of arts or medical buildings or the creation of parks or other public spaces. Today, however, philanthropy is happening more at all income levels and in a new range of ways. Modern-day philanthropists also demand far more for their dollars. Here are three ways philanthropy has evolved in the last few decades and where it is headed.
Demand for More Transparency
At one time, donors simply wrote a check and trusted organizations to use it wisely. A number of high-profile scams, however, have left donors much more cautious. Today’s donors want to be kept apprised of exactly where their dollars are going and the types of work their dollars are being used for. What’s more, they want statistical evidence to show that their dollars are actually having an impact and making a difference in their areas of concern.
One wealthy donor giving $100,000 to a philanthropic organization may actually have far less impact than one hundred donors each giving $1,000. One donor will generally have very little else to give to a philanthropic cause other than their money. One hundred donors, however, are much more likely to give of their time and direct social media attention to their cause. While a single high-profile donor can certainly bring significant attention to a cause, it may still be less than what one hundred donors with more grass-roots visibility can bring to it.
Several decades ago, young men built their wealth and then spent the later years of their lives cementing their legacies with charitable donations. Today, however, younger and younger philanthropists are emerging. From Mark Zuckerberg to Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa, philanthropy is not just for the silver-haired set anymore. In fact, some of today’s most effective philanthropists aren’t even old enough to have a job.
Olivia Bouler was only 10 years old when she started what turned out to be a campaign that raised over $200,000 for the National Audubon Society and Phoebe Russell was all of five years old when she set out to raise $1,000 to feed the homeless. Within two months, she had raised more than $3,700, which was enough to feed nearly 18,000 people and within six months, she brought in over $20,000 which fed 90,000 people.