What Is Your Philanthropic Footprint? - Retirement Net by Margaret May

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What Is Your Philanthropic Footprint?

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What do you do to show the world what really matters to you?

Posted February 18, 2011

Without going to the extreme of “wearing my heart on my sleeve,” I believe philanthropy shapes the ethics and morals of our society. America, once a county of the young, is fast graying. The number of Boomers ready to pass on their core values is increasing at a time when four out of five adults believe the ethics and morals in our country are no longer tracking true north.

As a cohort of maturing Baby Boomers we recognize that the world we are passing on to the next generation is not what we inherited. Our Generation Xers will inherit a different world, a world we made. Do we pass on the selfish “me-me” values, or the idealistic “we-we” values?

While some of it is very good, there is a price still to be paid for our indulgences. Some analysts predict the younger generation will be hard pressed to pay for our retirement benefits.

There is no doubt that for the near term, we are coping with the prospects for a less abundant future. There is a growing urgency for agreement and respectful acknowledgement of the need for intergenerational mutual dependency.

Historically, the non-profit sector—the philanthropic sector—provides an environment where creative discussion and innovation can flow more freely and openly. Mike Martin writes in his book Virtuous Giving: Philanthropy, Voluntary Service and Caring, “Above all, it (philanthropy) contributes to caring relationships and communities in more personal ways than by voting or paying taxes.”

The non-profit or “social sector,” as it is called by some, is congruent with Boomer women’s goals of making a difference in society, bringing virtue back into vogue, and using the philanthropic platform to reshape the ethics and morals and reset the compass due north for the next generation.

In other words, this is the right generation of women advancing in the appropriate sector at the optimal time in history.

One may well ask whether philanthropy chose Boom-generation women or whether an idealist generational cohort in search of a legacy chose philanthropy to set the moral benchmark for the next generation. My answer is both! It is our destiny. And so I challenge you to be a role model for the next generation. Share you hope and your heart and your dreams for a more compassionate and abundant world.

Perhaps it’s not such a bad idea after all for you and me to “wear our hearts on our sleeves” and show the world what really matters to you and why it matters all around for the future of our society. Sit down next to a person you know and tell her one thing you are grateful for in your life and ask her to share with you one she is grateful for in her life. Start the dialogue. The conversation will amaze you. The dialogue will transform the world, one thought, one word and one deed at a time. We will be living the boom-generation legacy of idealism and egalitarianism with “righteousness of conviction” and leaving an everlasting philanthropic footprint.

Margaret May empowers others to create their public and private wealth legacy unique to their passion and purpose, inspiring them to make a difference in the world through philanthropy. May is an accomplished author, trainer, philanthropy commentator, thought leader and public speaker. She is the founder of The Institute for Women and Wealth and her latest book is Women, Wealth & Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation. Her website is MargaretMay.com


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