Step Up and Help Out

“A big part of my responsibility from the success we’ve had is to share the story so students can be inspired. You don’t have to separate giving from business, or your job from your passion.”  – Blake Mycoskie, founder and CEO of TOMS Shoes, a company that gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold.


“When you are kind to someone, that person is more likely to be kind to someone else. When you are cruel to someone, that person is more likely to be cruel to someone else. You can make those decisions every day. I am not saying they are always easy, but they are important to make.” – Harvey McKinnon, The Power of Giving: How Giving Back Enriches Us All

Modest Giving Still Adds Up

According to studies by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, People who make less than $50,000 donate more as a percentage of their income (an average of 4.2 percent in 2004) than do those making more than $100,000 (who contribute 2.2 percent). Exceptional donors also tend to be less materialistic. Paul K. Piff, a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, says people who have less are more likely to give and help others. In a series of experiments detailed in a recent article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Mr. Piff and his co-authors found that poor people were more likely to share money with others, or provide helpful information to a stranger, than wealthier people. But if wealthier people were primed to think about poverty by being exposed to a short video showing scenes of poor children, they exhibited greater generosity.

One Donor’s Philosophy on Giving

Fariborz Maseeh, found and principal of Picoso, an investment firm in Newport Beach, California, recently gave $24-million to MIT to accommodate more undergraduates. The gift came through Mr. Maseeh’s foundation. He offers his philosophy on giving.

“We’re looking for causes that will have a broad public benefit. We’re looking for transformational activities—that our gift actually does something that could not be accomplished. We are also looking for good management, because once we give, it’s really on the shoulder of the organization to carry out the gift itself.” – Fariborz Maseeh

Stating the Obvious

FEAR: How can I give to charity if I can’t even pay my own bills?

FACT: Charitable giving is a part of an overall strategy for taking control of your cash flow. If you start giving at the same time that you start building assets, your assets will still grow because you’ve chosen to adopt a fiscally responsible path for yourself.

FREEDOM: Instead of risking your financial freedom, giving will enhance it.

“The only question with wealth is what you do with it.” – John D. Rockefeller

Billionaires Lead The Way

“It’s an established principle that there’s something called leadership by example,” said Peter G. Peterson, a former Nebraskan and financier who plans to give more than half his net worth of an estimated $2-billion back to charity. Peterson, along with fellow Omahans, Warren Buffett and Walter Scott Jr., is among 40 billionaires (and counting) who pledged a percentage of their riches to charity.

The idea stems from Buffett and Bill Gates. In June they asked individuals and families to publicly commit to give away at least half of their wealth within their lifetimes or after their deaths. Their goal: $600 billion. If their campaign succeeds, it could change the face of philanthropy. This has a ripple effect on so many levels. One only has to question if that’s something we can also do, regardless of our financial status. If the “standard” of giving is 10%, you have to be impressed with the percentage that billionaires are giving back to mankind—from 50% upwards to the 99% Buffett has pledged to give back.

Buffett wants to “set an example” and “influence others to give.” Little may he have known it’s not just the billionaires he’s influencing. In 2009 Americans charitable giving fell 3.6% to $303.8 billion last year, down from $315 billion in 2008, according to Giving USA. In 2008, charitable giving fell 2%. This charitable movement should be making us ask ourselves, “What am I willing to do now or upon my death to support charities that mean most to me?” After all, we know we can’t “take it with us.” I’ve never seen a U-Haul hitched up to a hearse!