Writing a cheque is just the first step in a philanthropic journey. Impactful giving is a multidimensional activity that is different for each philanthropist, shaped in part by his or her unique giving philosophy, life experience, time availability, social interests and goals. – Bain Philanthropy Report, 2017
Philanthropy has been on an upswing in India for the last 5 years. There is a discord in the financial resources required to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals, charities and philanthropic organisations need to step beyond their traditional domain of giving help to funding problem-solvers to bridge this gap. But, that’s not all. Bain’s Philanthropy report points towards the emergence of a new entity in the fundraising space – the Individual Philanthropist.
Difference Between Giving And Empowering
Many of us donate our old clothes to an NGOs or donate money to the poor or sponsor a meal for the hungry during a special event in the family and such. Given a chance most of the individual donors like you and me would like to do some social good. The feeling of helping someone is immensely satisfying and is surely gaining popular consciousness. The Individual Philanthropist is emerging.
Giving and empowering are fundamentally different. Empowering typically starts where giving ends. Giving is a mere transaction of transferring help and resources from the privileged to the underprivileged. Empowering is the active engagement of the haves in the well-being of the have-nots. When you empower someone you take specific interest in creating and sustaining positive impact in the life of the target beneficiary. You don’t just write off a check, blissfully unaware of whether it’s actually helping a person or a community at the end of the day. For example, donating your old books and clothes to collection center of an NGO is giving, while sponsoring a particular poor child’s education is empowering.
Many a time devotees sponsor meals at temples like Tirupathi or Siddhivanayak. Their intent is noble and commendable, but does this solve the problem of hunger? Does a single meal make a difference in the real sense in the life of the hungry? Has the number of people who go to bed hungry, come down even a little bit?
In reality, their problem of hunger gets sorted for a day, for a single meal. After that they are back to the streets, hunting for food and sleeping with empty bellies. Would it not be better to address the root cause of their hunger instead?
Giving is not Enough
We as a country are grappling with socio-economic issues like lack of education, limited access to healthcare, hunger, water and sanitation, lack of sustainable livelihood, that need to be solved. Donations and charitable contributions will only provide a momentary solution, but if you have the desire, why not go an extra mile to make a marked difference?
One of the easiest ways to empower is to buy products made by artisans and underprivileged persons. More motivated individuals can spend their time teaching children through organizations like Teach For India or Robin hood Academy. When you know ‘Who’ and ‘How’ someone benefits from your intervention, that’s when you can be sure that you are empowering.
Am I Giving or Empowering?
People at the BOP don’t need freebies or charity. They need opportunities to live a life of dignity and fulfillment. When we give, we are in a certain way just thinking of silencing our conscience saying ‘OK. I have done my part by donating money, now let them figure it out.’ NO. It doesn’t stop there. While giving solves their problem for the time being, why not go an extra mile and empower them, in the long run? As able citizens, blessed with comforts, money and the ability to think beyond just ourselves, it is our moral duty to empower, bring in the light to new life and help people with the means to sustain themselves in the long run.
So, the next time you donate something, ask yourself – ‘Am I giving or empowering?’