Philanthropy has been around seemingly forever, but it is still shrouded in myths. The following are three of the most common myths that people believe about philanthropy and the process.
Philanthropy is a transaction
In 2018, more and more people believe that philanthropy is a transaction they can do from their computers. The problem with this myth is that people are now “liking” instead of giving, or investing their time. Volunteering for an hour or buying a box of Girl Scout cookies are good deeds or charity, but not philanthropy. Philanthropy is more of a big-picture concept—a movement, a commitment to the greater good. It’s the difference between following something on social media about homelessness or giving to an organization dedicated to eradicating homelessness. You can like an organization’s Facebook page, or you can invest in its programs and becoming an ambassador for its mission.
It’s Easy to Find a Quality Charity
In fact, finding a quality charity to donate to is difficult. According to The Washington Post, not only is there considerable confusion among charities. For example, there are more than 60,000 with the word “veteran” in their names, yet there is little information on groups’ effectiveness. The mutual fund industry employs 159,000 people to help investors make good choices. But there are fewer than 100 people nationwide whose jobs are to help the giving public make wise donations. So what is a conscientious donor to do? You must do your research before investing in a charity. Charity Navigator is a great tool to use when deciding who you want to donate to.
The Less Overhead, the Better the Profit
In this myth, donors are focusing on the wrong factors, while infrastructure and capacity at non-profits are compromised. There’s a clear tie between this myth and the high rate of staff turnover that charities experience. Praising nonprofits for lean overhead numbers sends the wrong message to the donors: that running a lean operation is all that matters. Instead of focusing on how little they spend, we should focus on the results the non-profit achieves.
By debunking myths that surround philanthropy, we can help encourage people to give. Philanthropy is not simply hitting a like button on Facebook, it is investing in programs. Not every charity is a quality charity and it is important to keep in mind that less overhead does not necessarily mean better profit.