Paul Berens

Intentional Philanthropy

“The rich man who gives to the poor does not bestow alms but pays a debt.” (— St. Ambrose)

Giving Tuesday is a refreshing, chilled glass of water in between the Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday gorging and the remaining holiday consumption season. I suppose some of it amounts to “causewashing” and ineffectual organizations, but most of the causes and charitable orgs I come across I find at least well-intentioned if not very good.

But one day per year? It’s a marketing stunt, right?

Deloitte has an event called Impact Day, which was one day per year set aside for every member of the firm around the world to give a full day’s labor to a local nonprofit. I planned and coordinated this event for the Boston office one year, and sometimes I’d hear people criticize the program with a cynical quip about it being all about the PR value (like, that’s great you make a show of volunteering one day a year, but what about the other 364 days?), but I really don’t think that was the case by and large, and a) there is a lot of good you can produce in one day, working together, and b) hopefully getting a taste of volunteering and seeing its effects causes in some percentage of the group the resolve to make it a more regular part of their lives. This latter point is an optimistic case to make with Giving Tuesday as well: once you take the two minutes to create the account on the website of your charity of choice and add your credit card info, it’s that much easier to make a habit of giving.

How to donate money…from an amateur…who is not wealthy

Master of Alkmaar, The Seven Works of Mercy, ca. 1504, polyptych (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum)

I like the adage that from those to whom much has been given much is expected, though I’ve got a long way to go to deliver against that. Poco a poco…

— ᴘ. ᴍ. ʙ.

  1. How Much Do Donors Really Care About Overhead Spending, (Feb, 2018) 

  2. AmazonSmile is not a fundraising campaign; No, Don’t Smile 

First published: 2023-11-28

← back to all posts