Creating Philanthropic Habits

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Creating Philanthropic Habits

Written by Carlo Capua
WORTH member and Owner of Z’s Cafe

The late Billy Graham famously said “God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.”  I think he’s spot on.

When it comes to giving, I’ve learned something interesting about human behavior – people don’t just wake up one day and decide to start doing it.  As my pastor tells our congregation, “folks don’t roll out of bed one day and decide to start donating today.” Or, “it’s about time I start volunteering.”  It takes practice to turn into a habit.

Programs like WORTH engage young leaders early on to create these habits of philanthropy.  And the word “philanthropy” itself can be a bit daunting, typically conjuring up a successful CEO or business magnate who writes six figure checks from their penthouse office.

But the concept of philanthropy as “giving within your means” is important to develop early on, as is involving people on the other side of the grant-making process. WORTH members get to peek behind the curtain, choose the focus area, and deliberate as a group to decide which nonprofit(s) receive funding.

In other words, they are able to see the process “inside out” from start to finish.  And one day, if these young professionals turn into educators or parents, having a deep and personal understanding of the grantmaking process could pay dividends.

We could all name a myriad of organizations that solicit donations year-round, most of them targeting citizens and foundations with deep pockets.  But in order to build the next generation of philanthropists and leaders in any community, it’s critical to get them involved from a young age.

Case in point.  A couple months ago, I watched as a good friend (and financial planner) was giving her daughter an allowance.  “What can we do with this money?” she asked her 4 year-old.  “Spend, save, give,” she replied, her eyes growing large as she grabbed the $1 bill from her mother.

Most of us spend a lot, save some, and give a little.  And when it comes to giving, we’re conditioned to entering a credit card number online or putting a check in the mail.  It feels good to give.

But what if we could SEE the results first hand?  What if we could identify the need, choose the project and see the results?  At WORTH, our members are able to bear witness to the impact of their dollars. It’s critical to have groups like WORTH serve as incubators to help young professionals understand the meaning of philanthropy.

If all community stakeholders joined together in their efforts, just imagine how far we could move the needle on initiatives like student literacy, poverty and health, just to name a few.


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