WHAT IS PHILANTHROPY?
Philanthropy means “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing “what it is to be human” on both the benefactors’ (by identifying and exercising their values in giving and volunteering) and beneficiaries’ (by benefiting) parts. The most conventional modern definition is “private initiatives, for public good, focusing on quality of life”. citated from Wikipedia.
Bright Star Philanthropy Partners (BSPP) is a shared value community development initiative of Bright Star Grant Consultants. BSPP identifies and supports leaders to realize solutions that they design and execute with BSPP collaborations, technical assistance, and grants.
WHAT IS THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT POVERTY?
There doesn’t seem to be any when every day there is a news story about suffering in Africa, homelessness in our great cities, the working poor who work multiple jobs day and night to keep families together. In the face of such overwhelming problems, we tend to go numb, glaze over, and move on to the celebrity or comics page.
The good news is that there are ways for you to reach out and create a life changing difference with a small amount of money. This is fabulous for people who have never felt able to donate to causes that they believe in. Parents of all social strata are now able to teach their children the ethic of philanthropy by making it a family project, or by making gifts of volunteerism in lieu of material gifts. Those in need benefit from lifting themselves out of poverty with pride, and thereby changing their communities for the better one person, one family at a time. The time for, “someone should do something about this” is now.
WHAT IF YOU ARE WITHOUT A DOLLAR TO SPARE?
More and more, middle and high school students around the country are being required to perform community service hours as part of their learning experience.
If students can get involved in giving back to a cause or helping their community and neighbors in a way that matters to them, the lasting benefits can be far-reaching. The satisfaction and pride that comes from helping others can be life changing.
Parents often struggle with how they can guide their tweens and teens to select a community service project that will be meaningful instead of just having it be something kids mark off their checklist or use to pad their “resume” for college.
BE A GLOBAL PHILANTHROPY PARTNER
Another wonderful way to get family involved in philanthropy is by making it a project. Just as globalization is making the world smaller, the Internet makes connections to people in far away countries seem close. Some international non-profits make it easy to connect directly to those who need a hand up and to keep track of the progress of the person that you help.
First, you have to choose what kind of investment you want to make. There are essentially two roads. You can make donations to relief non-profits like the Red Cross and Oxfam that focus on disaster response. Micro-loan groups that develop community economies one person or group at a time are effective at preventing the need disaster relief by helping communities build infrastructure. Disasters like tsunami and earth quakes attract donors because they make dramatic pictures, and indeed response to tragedy is only natural.
Prevention, however, is often a better investment than attempts at remedy. If development work is done through strengthening the lives of everyday people and their communities, they have more resources to take care of themselves and in some cases decrease the severity of the disaster. Development-focused donor investments build a stronger, sustainable future. Here are a few that you can trust.
Part of a better long term solution to world hunger is to help people produce some of the food they consume. This strategy not only helps feed hungry people but increases their self-esteem, and self-sufficiency.
COLLECTIVE IMPACT FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables
Seed Programs International provides critical seed expertise and experience operating seed based self help programs.SPI is sponsoring two great opportunities through Global Giving gift card donations for as little as $10. www.globalgiving.org/projects/seeds-and-skills-for-women-to-grow-vegetables/
Vegetable seeds will be provided by Seed Programs International to grow fresh organic vegetables. We provide vegetable seeds and support so women can grow food! Female farmers produce more than half the developing world’s food – yet own less than 2% of land and receive scant support such as seeds, tools, and knowledge. We join with women’s gardening efforts in the most impoverished countries worldwide including Madagascar, Guatemala, and Liberia. By providing top-quality vegetable seeds and locally-driven support, seed programs give women a path to empowerment, income, and nutrition.
Seed Programs International (SPI) is a non-profit, tax exempt, non-governmental humanitarian organization.
They work through other humanitarian organizations, church groups, service clubs and individual donors, to provide quality seed to impoverished communities in developing countries, enabling them to grow some of their own food.
FOSTERING SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES
Kiva is a micro-loan non-profit that connects donors directly to people in the developing world and the United States who need a small amount of financing to start a small business. Your donation is a loan, so when you are repaid, and you can reinvest in another person or keep the cash.
The Kiva website features a picture of the person who seeks a loan, what kind of business they want to start, where they live, a description of the person and what they want to do. You can donate as little as $25 toward the loan, and you can see who else around they world is also pooling their money to change the life of the would-be business owner. When enough money is pooled, the business is started. The loan is administered by a field officer who offers technical assistance and gathers reports about the progress of the business.
Loan recipients write journals with the business’ progress that are posted on the website Kiva covers urban as well as very rural areas that are hard to get to and where there is little visibility to their plight. This is a great way to feel like you are taking part in the changing of that life and family.
Small loans are a great opportunity for women in particular, who have a 98% rate of repayment world-wide. Credit and financial resources are very scarce for women. Usually, if they can get credit, the terms are so steep that they never better their circumstances no matter how hard they work. If women are able to make a profit, they are most likely to spend the proceeds on health care, education, and food for their children.
FOCUS ON ACHIEVING RESULTS
Women for Women International is a non-profit that acts as a conduit between you and a woman who has survived a war. You can help her start a business, go to school, and get her life together. Sponsoring women is critical to the future of countries. Women have the least access to resources and the largest burdens in terms of care and survival of the family. The minimum sponsorship is $25 a month. Sponsors receive progress letters from recipients, so you can experience an authentic connection while profoundly changing a war-torn life. I know someone who sponsors a woman through this organization. She lives to get letters from a woman in India who is starting a business rather than turning to prostitution to support her family. She rereads the letters over and over again at her deli counter job. The she writes back and they have a strong mutual investment.
WE ARE THE CHANGE AGENTS
When adults can thrive instead of survive they tend to send their children to school. Often a family can only afford to send one child of many, the equivalent of deciding which child gets the life ring. When there is wide-spread education, particularly for girls, living conditions improve over time and whole countries can be transformed. South Korea and Malaysia are examples of countries that experienced famine, but raised themselves up through education that included equal access for girls. Ghana decreed mandatory education for all children, especially for girls, and their birth rate is down, child survival up, and economic prospects are promising.
About Renee Bourque, President Bright Star Grant Consultants