Utne Reader Online: Spread the Wealth

Wesley Roe and Marjorie Lakin Erickson lakinroe at silcom.com
Sun Nov 26 00:07:21 PST 2000


Est. 1995 Nov 16, 2000

Spread the Wealth
15 Ways to practice the art of philanthropy

By <azBio.tmpl?command=search&db=dAuthor.htm>William Upski 
<azBio.tmpl?command=search&db=dAuthor.htm>Wimsatt, No More Prisons

1. You don’t need to be rich to be a philanthropist. According to 
Independent Sector, an umbrella association for nonprofits, 82 percent of 
the money donated by individuals in this country comes from people with 
incomes under $60,000.

2. Spread love. People can give away millions, but if they mistreat others 
in their personal or work lives, then this hypocrisy is going to catch up 
with them and undermine their cause. It makes more sense to help people who 
spread love wherever they go build a viable organization than it does to 
support an established organization that still needs to learn about 
spreading love. Support really good people who have a total commitment to 
doing good in the world and who are willing to put their asses on the line 
to do it.

3. Seek out originality and imagination. If an idea makes you laugh out 
loud or say "Wow!" then support it.

4. Support unpopular truths. Look for people who speak from the truth of 
their experience, no matter how unpopular it is.

5. Fund players with a long view. Seek out people who are strategic and 
thoughtful about how their work fits within the context of what’s gone on 
before and what’s coming next.

6. Look out of the loop and under the radar. Support people no one else is 
supporting—people who are less likely to have connections or be endorsed by 
others who give away money.

7. Be effective and cost-effective. Support people who will stretch your 
dollars as wisely as—or more wisely than—you would stretch them yourself.

8. Fund passion. Support people whose work is their passion in life, not a 
day job.

9. Invest in self-help. Support organizations that empower disadvantaged 
people rather than those that merely service their needs. This usually 
translates to organizations led by people who come from the class of people 
they are helping. If a charity focuses on "at-risk youth," I want to know 
that its leadership is composed mainly of people who either are or used to 
be at-risk youth.

10. Attack root causes. Self-help isn’t enough. The solution to many social 
problems demands changing the rules of the system as a whole. Yet the 
organizations that have the hardest time getting money are the ones 
fighting to change the system. These groups are where your money will go 
the furthest.

11. Fund doers, not grant writers. I am drawn to people who are more 
interested in doing their work than in raising money. These people are 
usually not good fund raisers. So I give them a copy of Kim Klein’s 
incredible fund-raising video series along with my money. Let the savvy and 
sophisticated fund raisers get their money from someone else.

12. Foster combinationism. Support people who combine fields—they aren’t 
just into art, they aren’t just into politics, they aren’t just into 
science, but instead they blend the strengths and insights of many fields.

13. Go for net gains. Funding an ex-con to become a community organizer is 
a bigger net gain for society than funding someone with a college degree. 
The college student can get another good job. The ex-con prob-ably can’t.

14. Pay general operating expenses. If you really believe in an 
organization, help it buy a building so it can become sustainable and quit 
paying rent to a landlord. Don’t dictate how it should spend the money.

15. Trust what inspires you.

-- <azBio.tmpl?command=search&db=dAuthor.htm>William Upski 
No More Prisons

Excerpted with permission from No More Prisons.

Books mentioned in this article (Click to Order from 

More Prisons
William Upski Wimsatt

Hood was Right: A Guide for Giving Your Money for Social Change
Chuck Collins and Pam Rogers with Joan P. Garner

Philanthropy: Creating a Giving Plan
Tracy Gary and Melissa Kohner

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