No. 16 | Unleash your inner entrepreneur
As you read this first Philanthropist’s View of 2023, the world remains a turbulent place: the war rumbles on in Ukraine, the cost of essentials continues to rise, and, in the UK, crucial public services face dramatic challenges.
When the going gets tough our instincts might be to play safe, maybe even withdraw. But if we neglect to cultivate a positive, ‘can-do’ spirit, we will always limit our achievement. While keeping our goals firmly in view, we should be ready to take calculated risks – in other words, to act like an entrepreneur.
In these troubled times, the human dignity of many people is in growing jeopardy, whether through lack of money, opportunity, education, good health or a safe home. Acts of charity might help relieve the immediate pain, but through sustained philanthropy we can create and foster a solution for the longer term.
Though we may not know it yet, there is an entrepreneurial philanthropist in every one of us. We all possess a personal philanthropic toolbox. It is up to us to examine that toolbox, to understand each tool it contains, and to learn to use it to maximum effect. By harnessing our passions and putting our beliefs into purposeful action, we can all become agents of change.
Mercifully, philanthropy does not always involve handing out money. I often talk about the basic tools of philanthropy as the ‘three T’s’. These are the resources that a philanthropist must be ready to share. One of them is Treasure, i.e. money, but the other two are Time and Talent, (knowledge and skills). In philanthropic terms, Time and Talent hold just as much value as Treasure – ultimately maybe even more.
Throughout our lives, all of us need mentors. Why not take an initial plunge into philanthropy by volunteering your time to mentor someone who could benefit from your knowledge and skills? No-one else has your particular understanding of the world. Your experience and wisdom could make all the difference to your mentee, saving them trial and error, and empowering them to find solutions. In turn, you will not only develop your capacities for compassion and empathy, you will learn from the person you are mentoring.
Philanthropy, like almost everything else in life, is a matter of give and take. Through philanthropic action we gain a sense of fulfilment and reassure ourselves that we are doing something to make the world a better place. We also gain in wisdom, expanding our toolbox through interaction with other people and with the workings of the world. Like any entrepreneur, an entrepreneurial philanthropist never stops learning.