Now that we had looked at how philanthropy can make us achieve our set goals, it is also important that we find out if we can make a career in philanthropy.
I learned as a child that sharing is a good thing. Little did I know that I was practicing philanthropy – I just knew that giving to other people for important causes made me feel better? Years back, many people tended to give to the organizations that touched their lives, such as religious, medical and educational facilities. These are still the most popular recipients of charitable giving.
Currently, there are thousands of charities and foundations operating all over the world representing every conceivable cause on the planet.
These organized philanthropic entities are necessary because:
- Their services are ever in demand.
- In most countries government funding is declining and, in fact, disappearing.
- Poverty levels have risen.
- Natural disasters and wars have not spared us their damaging aftermath.
People like you and me must therefore be part of those that are generously giving donations towards all of the above worthy causes, and more. Donors have become savvier and now require greater accountability from the charities to which they give. I would personally make a career in philanthropy but it is important to learn how philanthropy works, the various ways in which I can contribute and how I can make sure my donation is going where it should. I am also aware that tax-deductible gifts and volunteerism are some of the ways of giving.
Most of the major corporations do social justice projects that are related to the field of industry or work. Some of the food products companies for instance, work to address the issues of nutrition and hunger in the community while others that create semiconductors promote science and math education and access to technology in the whole world. These are all forms of career opportunities in philanthropy.
In my understanding, philanthropy is anything that represents a direct effort to help others – ideally, effort expended without expectations of getting any form of pay back. Many charity groups directly help people who are in need; others, such as conservation nonprofits contribute in ways that indirectly but significantly affect us, our children and our grandchildren. I would like to freely give my money to charities that assist causes I believe are important.
A philanthropist is not characterized by the size of the gift; in fact, an independent survey found that people in the lowest income brackets tend to donate as much or more than their higher-income counterparts. The average American household, for example, donates about 2 percent of its regular income to support people who depend on these individual gifts for survival. That’s why I feel that a career in philanthropy would be satisfying for me even if I only donated my little gifts to charity. I am determined to start small. I must, however, identify a legitimate charity organization to launch my career in philanthropy.
It is believed that an efficient and worthwhile charity should use 50 to 60 cents of each dollar it receives to do the actual charitable work and use the rest of the funds for administrative, marketing and other relevant operational expenses. To know how efficient a charity is, one should start by determining whether the organization is registered or licensed and allowed to operate by the local Social Welfare Department. There are non-commercial organizations such as Red Cross, Salvation Army and others whose functions are elaborated in some of the philanthropy journals online and in the library. Many charities post their reports on their websites to attract potential donors.
Most have directors and boards to address financial and overall program services, management or operation and fund raising.
- Program service expenses – Include research grants, food sent to feed hungry families or public information brochures aimed at explaining a disease.
- Administration or operational costs – Expenses covering daily operations of the charity, including rent, office supplies and salaries of administrative staff.
- Fundraising costs – Printing and mailing of appeals, marketing and fees paid to professional fund-raisers.
All charities solicit support in various ways using individuals, direct mail phone, and internet methods. Any information conveyed should clearly identify the charity and state its purpose.
I learned that donations can be made in several ways: Donation by check payable to the charity organization, bequeathing funds, land, etc as part of one’s will, donating products such as computers, used cars and services.