Philanthropy: Love required?

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In a recent piece in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Peter Karoff (the founder of The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) and the 2008 author of The World We Want—New Dimensions in Philanthropy and Social Change) argues that ‘Sublime philanthropy demands an emotional investment as much as it demands economic and process investment’.

This is based pretty directly off literary critic Harold Bloom’s take on literature: “But strong critics and strong readers know we cannot understand great literature if we deny literary love to the writers or readers. Sublime literature demands an emotional not an economic investment.”

Personally I’m not convinced philanthropy and literature should be tackled with a similar style, but I’d like to hear your take on it as well. That love is a key ingredient to reach the peaks of either of these fields makes a lot of sense. To experience the heights of either giving or literary appreciation, an emotional investment is a springboard that allows for propulsion like no other. But the ‘demand’ portion is something I wrestle with. In some senses, since there is no substitute for love, it follows that it should be made required to achieve either of these pinnacles. Therein lies the paradox of love, however. Once demanded, love loses a lot of its luster – love given voluntarily is cherished so much more than love required, is it not? Even in Peter’s example below of his client’s demonstration of sublime philanthropy, it is the fact that the meeting between donor and recipient is voluntary and candid that allows for the creation of a mutually positive environment.

So these holidays, rather than demand or require love from those around us, let us be the springs that encourage love from others, by transmitting a continuous flow of positivity to drench those around is in sublimity.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2013 from the SECON team!



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