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Embrace and Empower Philanthropy


Embrace and Empower Philanthropy


Philanthropy has changed overnight. Hug and release philanthropy is dead. COVID-19 killed it. Welcome to the world of Embrace and Empower Philanthropy (my words). And it is a better way.

My wife said my last post,  Dealing with the Ask, was a little harsh, too critical of Hug and Release Philanthropy. I didn’t mean to be rude or disrespectful, but either way, who can argue?

The times they are a-changin’ and dealing with change is life.  The Philosopher, Heraclitus (475 B.C), preached  Panta Rhei  “everything or all things change.”[i]

Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan (2016) proclaimed, “Keep your eyes wide open, the chance won’t come again.”[ii]

If you run a community foundation, a small company, or you’re one of the elite Philanthropists of our time admit it, you’re looking for a return on your community investment. Well, there is a better way, and it’s a lot easier than you probably think.

Character, it’s said, is how you live life when no one is looking”, the economic, physical and emotional toll of the mere threat of contracting this virus is exposing people‘s real character. Good, bad, or ugly, we’ve all refined our definition of what is acceptable.

Seeing real character on display changes what we expect and will tolerate from our leaders, our neighbors, and ourselves. As we emerge Post COVID-19, survivors will remember how we performed under pressure and demand better character.

Embrace and Empower Philanthropy is not about handing out participation trophies. It is not a quick-out or a passing grade for merely showing up.

Embrace and empower philanthropy is taking responsibility. It’s about smart business[iii]. Assuming a leadership role for the whole community, not just hoarding the best parts for yourself.

It requires you to pick up your game. Run an exceptional foundation while mentoring the organizations you have rejected. Teach them how to produce more significant benefits in the community and add value to your foundation. It is about building your brand, visibility, and standing in the community.

Think about it; how many freshman athletes don’t earn a varsity letter their first year, but go on to lead as juniors and seniors? Even professional athletes take a season or two to reach their full potential. A good teacher wouldn’t expect a kindergartener to be able to test at the senior level in any subject. But, by their junior or senior year, they sure will.  

Mentoring, like teaching and coaching, is insurance on your investment in the future. Better coaching reaps better rewards more quickly.

If you evaluate philanthropy from this perspective, it would be ridiculous to hug and release students with no explanation of why you rejected them, and offer no plan for improvement. It would be irresponsible.

So, whether you run a community foundation, a small company, or you’re one of the elite philanthropists of our time, you have a responsibility that comes with that success. It’s an invitation to display your character and perform to a higher standard.

As the mentor, you design and set the criteria. The mentee can choose to improve at your guidance or perhaps decide to select another field altogether.  Either way, you have performed a valuable task admirably, and your community will notice.

In life and business, the strong survive. Charities are businesses, and the odds of survival are harder for small charities than for most companies because of compliance and transparency requirements.  

If you’ve succeeded in business pre-COVID 19, you have what it takes to become a hero in your community right now. The small charities that share your passion for the community, which you hope will support your business, can help you.

Make it happen now, or when COVID-19 is history,  you’ll be asking, “what just happened?”. “Change is life,” “and you better start swimmin’, or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin’. Embrace change and give embrace and empower philanthropy a chance. You can thank me later.







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