What Inspires Givers? What an important question with a very simple answer: driving their own agenda. When we talk about giving back to the community or making charitable donations we are talking about a very nice practice which makes people feel good all around. But what it doesn't do is last. In order to scale, in order to make a long-term difference it is relevant to recognise what the givers are getting out of their giving.
Some would argue the feel good factor, others who have experienced tragedies or loss of health or loved ones feel a sense of connection and duty - what else can they do. Many give back so that they say they did and some do it for tax relief. Others want to receive awards, some do it to enable less developed communities and generate income via a social entrepreneurship route.
I strongly believe that what inspires givers could be all of the above but to promote a deep impact and long-lasting give back, I must be inspired by what I get out of it personally and professionally. I care about socially conscious technologies. I care about accessibility - that is my agenda - and yes it does feel good too. If the act of giving or volunteering meets the needs of our agenda, our culture, our beliefs, our ethos, then it will be sustainable.
Taking a 'we are all one approach' to giving is important. Too many times we see cultural or religious communities who only want to give within their own group. While that isn't all bad, what would be better is if we as a global community or we in the UK as thought leaders educate ourselves and others around us through hands-on practice.
For example, the Asian Foundation for Philanthropy (AFP), (www.affp.org.uk) is supporting grass roots charities where local people are the change makers. The organisation has been a catalyst in enabling the Asian Diaspora to connect with charities in India whether it is through volunteering or donations. The Jagruti Program, for instance, helps Asian Diaspora to learn about the development issues in India and in turn educate 2nd and 3rd generation Asians in the UK.
Shelter (www.shelter.org.uk) provides opportunities for us to give back locally, right here in our own backyard. It is an important organisation because they tackle the root causes of Britain's housing crisis. They do this by campaigning for new laws, policies and solutions. In our busy lives we may not stop and think that bad housing affects our children and in effect our future. Without safe and decent living, they cannot enjoy youth nor benefit from education. Where does that leave the UK in terms of developing thought leaders? Anyone can get involved and everyone should care about our future.
What should inspire givers are definitely their own agenda and their responsibility to think about the future of their children, their country and their world. Don't just think about it, do something and care about it!
(from A personal agenda by Sheetal Mehta Philanthropy UK Newsletter, March 2007)