Revolutionizing Philanthropy: A Podcast and an Entrepreneurial Take

Here’s the third episode of our podcast series Shaping the Future of Philanthropy: Voices from Next Gen Donors. Give it a listen and read Sam Utne’s related story about how he approaches creating real impact in philanthropy.

When I think of philanthropy, I think of leveraging one's assets to promote a higher ideal of a better, more loving, more sustainable world. Since childhood, my parents always stressed, that the practice of philanthropy goes way beyond money. This is something I continue to believe today and have incorporated into my own charitable strategies.

One thing money is really good for, however, is discovering our values. Giving helps us articulate our core beliefs. There are a lot of great causes out there and almost all of them deserve much more money than they are getting. Money forces us to choose which issues we want to focus on and that is a very important first step. We research, understand the issues, and choose where we want our money to go.

Once we know where we want to focus, we can do more. Money certainly isn't everything and in the world of change, it's only one small tool in a vast toolbox. To increase the impact of our philanthropy, we look at the rest of our lives. Start by putting your money where your mouth is, then walk the talk too. Leveraging our purchasing power, aligning our investment portfolios, and talking to our friends are all great ways of deepening the impact we can have on the issues we care about most.

My parents ran a magazine for years that was completely in line with their core values. They considered it a platform for the people, ideas, and movements that they believed in. I've found myself focused on environmental issues recently and my current project, Postography (an app that sends real postcards) goes above and beyond in promoting sustainability throughout the product. Cards are printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks and renewable energy. Plus, we plant a tree for every 20 cards sent. What's more, we've built tools that allow other organizations to use our product to activate their own memberships toward the issues they care about most. I consider my time and attention to be additional tools in my philanthropic war-chest, and I do my best to keep them inline with my greater philanthropic goals.

The next generation will wield more funding power than any other generation in history. But I think one of the most interesting shifts will be to see how this generation aligns their purchasing power, investing power, and all of their assets to work towards focused, strategic, and high-minded goals. Money will go a long way but focus and work will change the world.

This podcast and blog post are part of our ongoing series Shaping the Future of Philanthropy: Voices from Next Gen Donors.


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