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Intersection of Life and Faith

Give Your Time as Well as Your Money

  • 2002 6 Jun
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Give Your Time as Well as Your Money
As modern giving and caring have developed and grown more self-conscious it has become plain that the best giving is form of "venture capital for social change." It is motivated by the belief that "we can transform the world, one good cause at a time." One vital form is the new emphasis on the entrepreneurial element in giving and caring.

... an overall trend in both business and philanthropy has been the distancing of the founder/creator of the fortune from its administration. Professional foundations and fundraising have removed the wealthy from the control of their wealth - in favor of experts, specialists, and professionals. This drift is now under attack politically, but it is potentially just as harmful in terms of declining vision and energy in an organization.

The last decade has witnessed the rise of an alternative model of philanthropy, one that carries none of the distancing tendencies of the general purpose foundation. The new model is philanthropy through "social entrepreneurship." That is, rather than wealthy people giving their money to existing institutions, wealthy people give themselves as well as their money by serving in as well as supporting the organization in which they believe.

Thus no distancing occurs between the creator of wealth and its administrators. More importantly, the creators of the wealth are able to bring to the organization the same business expertise that was vital in creating their wealth in the first place. Social entrepreneurship is therefore a gift of knowledge and money delivered along with the personal passion of an entrepreneur.

The term "social entrepreneurship" may be new, alongside other modern terms such as "social capital." But the idea is not new. William Wilberforce's cousin, Henry Thornton, for example, was far more than England's most prosperous late-eighteenth-century merchant who happened to support the abolition of slavery. He brought to the abolition movement the same entrepreneurial gifts that exemplified both early modern capitalism and the early abolition reform movements. In our modern terms, he was a social entrepreneur, a venture capitalist for social change.

Obviously, the idea of social entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Most wealthy people continue in the sphere in which they created their wealth. But this philanthropic model appeals particularly to those who realize ... that there is more to money than making money, just as there is more to giving than giving money. In the words of Bob Buford, chairman of Buford Television, Inc., it appeals to those who desire to move "from success to significance." Realizing that life is more than "going for the gold," they invest their gold - and themselves - in a greater cause or calling.

Excerpted from Doing Well and Doing Good: Money, Giving, and Caring in a Free Society by Os Guinness, copyright 2001 by The Trinity Forum. Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, Co., www.navpress.com. All rights reserved. For copies of the book, call 1-800-366-7788.

Dr. Os Guinness is passionate about making issues of character, culture, and public policy practical for everyday use. The author of many books, he serves as Senior Fellow of The Trinity Forum and lives in McLean, Va.

Do you currently give more of your time or your money to organizations you support? Which is easier for you to give right now, and why? If you support the same organization with both time and money, how does doing so help maximize your contributions to that organization? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.