Thoughts on How Orindans May Give
Mr. Rogers famously passed on the advice of his mother to “look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.”
Philanthropic helpers are not necessarily the wealthiest people since helpers can give time as well as money to help a cause. But how does one become inspired to be philanthropic?
Philanthropic inspiration can come from anywhere. But for those actively searching for inspiration, a good place to start is having a strong understanding of what is most important to you. Having a cause that you care about might inspire you to enjoy hours of volunteering or wading through grant requests.
When Orindan Sharon Simpson’s late husband Barclay Simpson’s business took off, she decided the couple needed to give back.
“We thought, what are our areas of interest? We decided “museums and art,” because we had a gallery and kept on reading studies that children exposed to the arts do better in math and science,” she said.
From that humble start, for three decades the Simpsons have focused on supporting underserved children with a focus on education.
After identifying a meaningful cause, it makes sense to identify the most effective way to have an impact. For most, it involves getting behind a high impact organization already working on the issue one wants to support.
For the Simpsons, that meant becoming inspired backers of “Girls Inc.” when they saw effective results for the group’s mission, a mission they cared about. The organization helps 5,000 to 7,000 girls per year. “Girls Inc.” describes itself as a non-profit that “inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold” through evidence-based programming.
Once one identifies an organization to support, the last step is deciding how to support it.
An able-bodied retiree may have time and ability to volunteer. Those helping financially might give or save more through the tax benefits of giving appreciated assets through a Donor Advised Fund or foundation, or directly from a retirement account via Qualified Charitable Distributions.
Some of us simply don’t have the resources to give, but there’s substantial evidence that it’s worth exploring if we can. Helping others has been demonstrated to make humans happier than more obviously self-interested pursuits.
The Dali Lama captured this notion in his saying: “If you want to help others, practice compassion. If you want to help yourself, practice compassion.”
Simpson shares advice on the joys of philanthropy.
“You get back so much more than you give,” she said. “I have a smile on my face from saying that right now. It’s really true.”
David Born can be reached at email@example.com.