Generosity empowers the giver


Our team continues to follow two terrific stories about doing good. Specifically, how a single person is making a really big difference, giving back and helping others--and doing so precisely the way he wants to do it.

Consider Ariel Nessel, a Dallas real-estate developer who decided to start giving away $1000 a day, directly to individuals. A decision he made after years spent writing checks to charities--more than $700,000 in total. But he wanted a different sort of philanthropic experience. And that desire led to a new, highly personal approach to giving. For example, Ariel recently gave $1000 to a filmmaker to produce short videos about respecting the environment. An article by Michelle Gienow in the Chronicle of Philanthropy quotes Ariel explaining his strategy: "power is no longer with organizations as much as it is with people."

It's working at work, too. Matt Monge, chief culture officer at Mazuma Credit Union in Kansas City, Missouri, wrote a terrific post about creating a conscious corporate culture. "People don’t leave their humanness at the back door when they come to work," writes Matt. In fact, he says, people helping people is good for business, and creating a culture of social responsibility inspires and motivates the people in the company which in turn drives corporate growth.

Stories like this really shouldn't come as a surprise. The social consciousness of America is growing, rapidly. For example, six years ago, a study of 20 and 30-year-olds indicated that 56 percent of employees in this age group would consider leaving an employer if that employer didn’t share the employees’ commitment to social responsibility. By 2012, that figure had jumped to an astounding 86 percent.

Much opportunity lies in how we respond to--and encourage--this important emerging market trend. The opportunity to create an entrepreneurial framework for social responsibility, redefining “good.”

And it's not just philanthropy that's changing the landscape; other disciplines are influencing the new definition of doing good, including corporate sustainability and resiliency, talent development, governance, regulatory influences and consumer-centric marketing. These best practices play out in the community in civic and corporate arenas, and even in Americans' personal lives, inspiring, affirming and celebrating the social causes that are most important to each individual.

Doing good means more than giving money to favorite charities. Activities such as volunteering, serving on boards or committees, recycling, purchasing products supporting a cause and attending community events are playing a bigger role in the donor experience. Even wellness and caring for others is part of the wide net cast around the notion of social responsibility.

It's an exciting trend, well-worth watching. After all, doing good is best when it's self-defined. And that is precisely what drives so much of the benefit involved in philanthropy, however you choose define it, both at home and in the workplace.

Generosity empowers the giver.