As the Greek philosopher Aristotle aptly put it, “To give money away [for charity] is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power nor an easy matter.” At the heart of philanthropy (from the Greek word philanthropia, meaning benevolence, kindliness, humanity), there is love for mankind, but when money becomes the main or only focus of philanthropic activities, the entire community (not only the intended beneficiaries of charitable donations) suffers. Nowadays, the problem with philanthropy is that the biggest part of the effort revolves around raising funds, while not enough attention is paid to the outcome.
Money can’t solve the gravest problems of the developing world, nor does it create sustainability. If on one hand, the good hearts of major philanthropists, non-government organizations, celebrities, and political leaders raise billions upon billions of humanitarian aids along a wave of excitement and awareness, the recipients of their charity experience in fact little to no life improvement.
What the majority of charities and foundations lack, although compassionate and well-meaning in their intentions, is not money. What is missing is the necessary leadership required for accountability, sustainability, and measurable human flourishing: in order to accomplish its goal, philanthropic leadership needs to be meaningful, well thought-out, and strategic.
In his latest thought-provoking book, Everyone Wants Your Money: Helping You Navigate Through Philanthropy (Authorhouse, July 2010), author and philanthropist Dr. Gray Keller invites all donors to consider the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of charitable giving, bringing to the light of true philanthropic leadership the significant differences between successful and failing organizations. The book exposes also the ugly side of philanthropy, the one that masks greed and ambition under a disguise of goodwill and reputable prestige. When the relationship between leader/follower donors and recipients of charity is centered exclusively on money, and no real values, beliefs, vision or strategy are involved, that relationship won’t thrive and neither will the charitable effort. No real progress and positive change will ensue. Money can be mishandled when guided by greed. Purposeful integrity and values cannot.
Based on many years of researches and real world experiences as an advisor, consultant, and activist, Dr. Keller’s book explores conventional (the historical and traditional future of philanthropy), counter (a direct reaction to the conventional future), and creative philanthropic scenarios (radical innovations and social change). With the aid of tools, strategies, and leadership exercises, Keller invites readers to re-align with those life principles that inspired them to become donors in the first place, consider more creative and empowering ways of giving, and relate to the challenges and opportunities of ‘giving wisely’ in innovative and globally-oriented ways.
Giving blindly perpetuates the status-quo of poverty in the world, while truly effective philanthropy entails investing in people and empowering them. “Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to freedom for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?” (Gandhi)
Everyone Wants Your Money is a must-read for everyone who wants to make a difference through philanthropy, as a leader, as a follower, or even as a consumer supporting companies that promote and sponsor charitable causes.
Gray Keller serves on the National Christian Foundation Board of Trustees for Florida, which is the largest Christian grant-making foundation in the world with over $4 billion in management. He also serves on an advisory board of the Department of Children and Families for the State of Florida, and he currently presides over the Leader Foundation, a private foundation that funds public charities working with widows, orphans, the poor and oppressed. As a philanthropic leader, Dr. Keller has traveled the world serving the poor, working with orphans and widows, and participating in everything from medical missions to constructing homes in the developing world.