Gordon Darling recently passed away aged 94. As one of Australia’s most generous arts benefactors, he led an exceedingly successful and generous life. He was described in every single obituary as a philanthropist, and there is no doubt that he epitomised this term. It also occurred to me that pretty much regardless of one’s beliefs, status or interests, being seen as a philanthropist is the ultimate accolade or aspiration.
This does not however mean that you need to be in the ranks of the super-rich like Gordon. Chris Wootton, the acting CEO of Philanthropy Australia, recently noted that, “what we’re seeing now is instead of philanthropy being very isolated poppies, we’re probably really seeing a sea of poppies now happening and a whole lot more people are seeing themselves as being philanthropic entrepreneurs and making a contribution to good social change.”
The continuing growth and popularity of crowdfunding and peer to peer fundraising has created the need for a different type of philanthropist. Rather than super rich, they are the Super-Influencers. We all know someone like this. They seem to know someone from every facet of work and life. They have interesting points of view and people listen when they talk (and not because they have to). They have energy and charisma and they use it for good. We simply trust them.
These Super-Influencers are just what is needed for those of us who find deciding on a cause about as easy as choosing a mobile phone plan. For those of us who are not yet ‘affiliated’ to a cause, we feel we can support what the Super-Influencer supports, because we trust them. We now get behind this person and we are not individuals but a movement. We also feel empowered because when we are a movement we feel we can make a greater impact. One only needs to see the rise of Giving Circles and collaborative giving movements like 10 x 10 to see this in action. And the impact of their giving contributions is not to be sneezed at.
Put all of that together and you have the Philanthropist for our time. The question we should all be asking ourselves is,
Am I the philanthropist or am I their supporter?
Either way we can do more