Let’s talk about philanthropy. This is where the real power and true joy resides.
I first realized this when I interviewed smart women for my first book, Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money. I thought the whole purpose of taking the financial reins was to have more money in the bank.
But these women were telling me there’s more. Knowing how to invest wisely is merely the first part of taking fiscal responsibility. The other part, equally important, is recognizing you have the power to effect change.
I’m convinced this as an inevitable, evolutionary process. Once a woman becomes financially secure, there’s a natural progression from needing to get a grip on her money to wanting to extend her reach in the world.
As we stop waiting to be saved, we start wanting to serve. As we figure out how to invest for the highest returns, we start wondering where we can invest to achieve the most impact.
Yet philanthropy is usually the least thought out, most disorganized, part of our financial activities. We give more thought to buying a pair of shoes than which causes we donate to.
And many disqualify themselves as philanthropists because they’re not Melinda Gates or Oprah. But honestly, you don’t need a large fortune to make a considerable difference.
I remember, right after my divorce. going to a political fund raiser and writing a very small check. It was all I could afford and it seemed so insignificant, I actually left feeling bad.
Soon after I shared this experience with a woman I was interviewing. She too was only able to give small amounts.
“How do you keep from feeling yours is just a drop in the bucket?” I asked. I’ll never forget her response.
“Mine is a little drop,” she told me, “but that drop combined with all those other drops, fills the bucket to overflowing.”
The key to leverage your financial clout is by taking a long hard look at what matters most to you and then combining your contribution with other people’s contributions. Individually, we can make a difference. Together, we can make an even bigger one.
Never underestimate how, collectively, we women have the power to create enormous social change and wield tremendous clout.
Do you have a plan for your contributions to causes you care about? Leave me a comment below.