Heart-to-Heart Connection

To inspire and be inspired!

Philanthropy: The Difference Between Enabling and Empowerment

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  (Chinese Proverb) 

Over the years, billions of dollars in aid have poured from the developed to developing nations.  Yet 80 percent of our world’s population live on less than $10 per day.

Why?

Perhaps one answer to this complicated issue may lie in enabling — temporary relief — not empowerment.  

Temporary reliefs are handouts.  They’re necessary, especially in life or death situations.  Basic needs — shelter, food, and water — must be met before improving lives. Once immediate needs are met, however, should additional donations continue to simply feed and clothe its recipients?

Are such acts of “kindness” empowering the people or are handouts in the name of “donations” degrading creative minds and resilient spirits into beggars and dependents?

In The Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back, the Salwens sold their house and gave away $800,000 to the Hunger Project in Ghana; to equip and empower its people to take back their lives and become self-sufficient:

(Click for video)

We go back into the villages of Ghana [where my family and I invested our funds], and this time the chief hands us a list of things they have accomplished.  ‘Look what we’ve done.’  They are proud of their own activities.  Oh, this is good.  [Empower, not enable].  We are making progress.

The Salwens asked five questions before committing to their work in Ghana:

  • Will our work empower or be a Band-Aid?
  • Do we respect the culture? Do we have enough humility to see our new partners/recipients as equals?
  • Are those partners fully engaged in designing the project?
  • Are we doing this work for the same reasons as our partners, the folks we’re trying to help? Do we have a different agenda?
  • Are we committed for the long haul?  Change does not happen overnight.

Steep learning curve, for me, anyway.  But each of us can make a small difference.  Lots of small differences will result in change!

If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.  (Anita Roddick)

To enable or to empower … THAT is the question.  🙂

 

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March 14, 2010 - Posted by | America, Attitude, Book Review, Change, Christianity, Collaboration, Compassion, Dream, Education, Finance, Food, Freedom, God, Health and Wellness, International, Introspection, Leadership, Love, Mind, Money, Passion, Peace, Purpose, Self Help, Soul, Spirit, Success, War | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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