The Power of Philanthropy

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.

Comments & Feedback

  • Cori McGraw

    Yes, I donate 10% of my income to causes that matter to me (typically animal welfare, women’s rights, and human rights issues). Establishing a set percentage has brought me a lot of peace and freed up a lot of mindspace, because when I hear about all these wonderful causes, instead of feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or guilty that I cannot give more or give to all of them, I feel confident knowing that my steady 10% is always going to great causes and then I don’t have to “think” about every donation request that arrives in my inbox/mailbox. I used to feel overwhelmed by all the requests. This system has helped lessen that. Also, when my bank allowed it for free, I maintained a separate checkbook for charity, where I automatically put 10% of everything that came my way into that account, and then could look and see whether there was anything in there to contribute to XYZ cause or not. If yes, great. If not, then maybe another time. I highly recommend that you use the percentage system if you are a sensitive person like myself who wants to help but also gets incredibly drained by receiving an avalanche of requests.

    • barbara huson

      Cory, that’s absolutely brilliant. You’re right…it can be a real struggle when there are so many worthy causes and we have limited funds. I LOVE having clear boundaries in the form of % of income available to donate. Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope it gets read by many!!!

  • Annette

    I donate 10% of my income to animal charities that I feel are doing great work and who have people with the right attitude and intentions. That includes individuals who are stepping in to help animals in need around them.
    When it comes to deciding who to support, I always base it on how they communicate with me as I make sure to reach out to them first as I do my due diligence of them. Because if they are grateful that I am only giving a tiny amount at the moment (and sometimes even less than 10%), then when I am able to give more – they will be just as gracious and deserving.
    I only support people/organisations helping animals who align with my sensitivities, values and solution-oriented approach.
    I have book marked lots of them, as I come across them, so that when I am in a position to support more animals and the people helping them – then I will seek them out.
    I graciously give 10% of my income because I am not in a position to go to that country or location and help that individual animal in need myself, so I appreciate that there is a human who is willing, able and capable of doing this.

    • barbara huson

      Annette, your clarity is powerful. This is what so many successful women shared with me…they are super clear about where they give and the amount they give, tying it in with their values and priorities. It brings so much peace around their giving. And the fact you keep a list of potential charities so when you have excess funds, you know exactly where you can put them. Thank you so much for sharing your excellent strategy…it’s so smart!

  • Nancy Scimone

    Yes, Barbara. Visualizing giving funds to organizations I believe in sparks a tremendously larger force than imagining what I can ‘buy’ for myself. Living simply will always be an attraction for me, but sharing with my special organizations is the greatest impetus to progressing toward financial wealth. In the past I’ve performed gratis concerts (singing) for these groups and now I can do both: sing for them and send them funds. It’s not a big big amount but each of us giving, as you said about the drops, helps fill the ocean.
    PS: I just received my Rewire for Wealth book today!!

    • barbara huson

      What a beautiful sentiment–giving to organizations that mean something to you is your motivation for creating wealth! I can’t think of anything more powerful or meaningful than that. Thanks for sharing! And I really hope you like my latest book!!! Thanks for buying it!

  • Lisa

    I just make a plan to do something at the beginning of the year, because sometimes the causes I care about change.

    I’ve met some incredibly wealthy people doing charity work. They don’t necessarily do it for the tax break or from the goodness of their heart; they want to know what’s going on in the communities.

    Have rarely met anyone who has tried to market me or solicit me anything while serving. Have generally met really loyal people.

    BTW, while reading PCIC, I remembered a time meeting with a financial advisor in downtown SF about buying a mutual fund during my early 30’s. He wanted to know if I was getting a divorce. I’m sure if I was a man I wouldn’t have been asked that question.

    • barbara huson

      First, I love that you make a plan, Lisa. So few people do that in regard to philanthropy. And the fact you rethink the plan every year, because your choices change…soooooo smart!! As for that SF financial advisor, I promise he’d never say that to a man! Hope guys like him are fading away fast or at least coming to their senses! Thanks for sharing!

      • Lisa

        Thanks for your support, Barbara!

        I was initially taken back by his question. Then I thought it may have something to do with a legal or capital gains tax issue. Maybe he hoped I might have more money to invest after a divorce. Now, after reading your book I can tell it’s probably very much a societal issue. Most women probably start to see a financial advisor just because or after they get divorced. He also had a picture of his wife and two young children on his desk. I wouldn’t be surprised if she depended on him to make all the investment decisions!

  • Mary Stephenson

    I give to the Lions Club I belong to. We have helped and sponsored an underprivileged school. Also have donated as a group to many projects in our area and were behind Preston Sharp’s cause of honoring veterans. I donate my time to build and run their website. I think we can all do things we are best at, even if money is tight.

    • barbara huson

      That’s so awesome, Mary. The Lions Club is an amazing organization, backing really important causes. I love that you’re donating time to run their website. Kudos to you!!! And a big hug from me!!! You’re an inspiration.

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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