I had the pleasure of interacting with diverse and committed philanthropists and engaged citizens this week. On Tuesday, Stuart and Jane Weitzman shared a piece of their philanthropic journey. They expressed gratitude for their Jewish heritage and culture, and to Spain, the country in which they were able to cultivate their successful shoe business. On Wednesday, I attended a dynamic panel on gun regulation, featuring speakers from Temple Health System, CeaseFirePA, and a victim of random gun violence. Participants in the room wanted to understand how to connect with the issue and get involved on a meaningful level. This morning, I attended a breakfast lecture for the creative community about water. The speaker, an author, used the theme of water to show how we are irrevocably connected to each other through the water we drink and the rivers that are central to our economy, including the Delaware.
What do these three events have in common? Each philanthropist and/or engaged citizen presenting at these events was clear about their values and has chosen a strategic engagement in the community based on those values. A values-based philanthropist first asks “What is my why?” before heading out on a philanthropic journey and making an investment in the community.
You must go through a process of honing in on your core values to clarify your why. When I work with clients, we begin by looking inward, clarifying what matters most to you and identifying the values that drive your purpose and meaning in community involvement. Once you have identified your values and beliefs, you can ask yourself these questions:
- How do I live out these values?
- Why are they important to me?
- How could these values show up in my philanthropy?
- What would my life/the world look like in the absence of these values?
- Is your life aligned with your values and your beliefs? Do you “show up” in a way that energizes you and fills your life with meaning? When you are clear about how you choose to live, you will have clarity about how you choose to give.
Values are who you are in your own deepest nature, not who you think you should be. They serve as an inner moral compass to guide our life’s decisions and intentions.
How do you uncover your values? Answer these questions;
- how do you choose to spend your time?
- what activities do you have a great passion for and that bring you true joy?
- what activities, experiences, and people with whom do you feel deeply engaged and connected?
- what do you care about, and why?
Knowing the answers to these questions will lead you to an articulation and restatement of your values. This leads to aligning your giving with your values. Philanthropy (the love of humanity) is often expressed by giving to the community in the form of time, talent, treasure and ties (the four t’s). Values-based philanthropy happens when you align your resources (the four t’s) with what matters most to you.
Knowing and articulating your values provides clear boundaries for how you share your resources; frees up time and energy to focus on impact; and offers greater fulfillment. Aligning philanthropy with values helps achieve clear outcome goals, deep knowledge of focus areas, effective and coordinated resource sharing strategies, and establish learning plans and practices. Effective philanthropy combines the head and heart.