If you are in the luckiest 1% of the humanity, you owe it to the rest of the humanity to think about the other 99%. - Warren Buffet
If the World’s richest man has said that, it must mean something! What is philanthropy after all? An act of benevolence for that part of the population that needs it the most. More than the money or fortune that gets donated, philanthropy has much to do with empathy. It is empathy that stems the feeling of doing something good for the society, to make a difference. Loads of money and fortune does not do what a generous donation to some organization that works for the needy and deprived people of the society, can do. It is this social service that feeds the conscience and nothing else. Money gives you security, fame and all the things in the world that you can ask for, but one act of selflessness done to help the others is what makes a person the happiest.
Philanthropy comes out of sacrifice, conscience and the feeling of empathy to do good for the general public apart from doing good to your own company. The society which gives a business organization so much and accepts it, deserves a share of that profit and philanthropy is the way businesses give back to the society.
Why philanthropy? – It’s not all altruism.
Now the question that arises is, why philanthropy? What is the need to give back to the society when there are no real benefits of it? While one might miss the benefits of it at the first glance but when noticed closely, philanthropy does a lot of businesses that they can imagine. Apart from the sociological aspect, which talks about getting to do your bit for the society, there are added benefits for the business as well. I will throw light on some of the aspects of philanthropy which helps the business grow.
- First and foremost, it helps build goodwill. When the organization is into CSR projects or awareness drives or simply into donating a part of their fortune for a cause, it shows generosity. When you are generous to the general public, the general public is generous to you. It does good publicity for the brand your company is trying to build and gains the much-vaunted public trust. People believe in your cause and efforts and as a result, support your brand. Hence from the business point of view, philanthropy is good for the brand image.
- It is worth noting here that philanthropy is nothing like charity. Philanthropy is where you work to eradicate the societal problems that exist in the world, unlike charity which works to alleviate the sufferings of the people who face them. When you support philanthropic ventures, you support a team or organization that works on finding solutions to the problems faced by the people. When the word gets spread, there is obviously goodwill that the company receives but you are helping people come up with innovative solutions to eliminate a lot of problems, by providing them enough to fund the development projects. This way you make conscious and constant efforts to do good for the society. These projects make a lot of difference and you get to work with the most skilled team of people. It always helps to have a skilled team of people to work alongside your company.
A lot of business magnates, the tycoons of the league of the richest people around the world give a lot to philanthropy and how much they give is evaluated. This evaluation then leads to giving them a Generosity Index for it. Generosity Index, simply put, is the ratio of the amount of a person's lifetime donation to his/her current net worth. The higher the generosity index, the better goodwill the person holds among their peers and also with the general public. Chuck Feeney, the leader of the retail industry and the founder of the Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private foundations in the world is called the “James Bond of Philanthropy” for having a generosity index of over 100%. He has given away more than he has made. The richest man in the world at present, Warren Buffet, has a Generosity Index of 35%, followed by Bill Gates whose Generosity Index is pegged at 32%. Be it any cause that is close to their heart, from health care to education to environmental conservation, all these business tycoons are into philanthropy. Bill Gates established Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which works for better sanitation and better education in third world countries. Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of the social media giant Facebook, along with his wife Priscilla Chan donated a humongous amount of $ 25 million for the fight against Ebola. And these are just to a name a few, all business magnates do some or the other kind of philanthropy projects and help a lot to bring the society to better standards and eliminate the problems faced by the general public or needy in some cases.
Back home, the Indian philanthropy market is gaining momentum and has matured quite a lot, according to a 2018 report by Bain and Company. The developmental goals of India are immense and there is immense potential in the country to gain from businesses' philanthropic ventures. Businesses from in and around the world recognize India's developmental goals and look forward to investing in them. The report suggests that the philanthropists today invest not only from their heart but also from their mind, and they do not just stop at giving funding for the project but assess the outcomes and work on the effectiveness of the outcomes, eventually becoming active contributors. The top philanthropist in India is Azim Premji, the Chairman of Wipro Ltd., with 8000 crores of wealth donated for developmental projects and philanthropy works. Apart from him, GM Rao, founder chairman of the GMR Group, Ronnie Screwvala, founder and CEO of the UTV Group, Nandan Nilekani, the Chairman of UIDAI and his wife Rohini Nilekani and Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of the TATA group through his JRD & Sir Ratan Tata Trust, have given away immense fortune for philanthropic works, eventually creating awareness about a lot of burning problems that the people of India face. Nandan Nilekani and his wife contribute towards the cause of education, water and governance, Ratan Tata and JRD TATA Trust invest in rural development schemes, education and health care among other welfare activities the Trust is known for. These are just a few examples of business magnates that are doing their bit to give back to their nation and the society in general. And the list of people working for philanthropy ventures and the causes they support is endless.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’’
This is the question that drives most of the richest people around the world to venture into philanthropy. Success, wealth and fame are parts of the lives of the riches but they transform into true leaders when they give their voice to causes that are close to their hearts. It is through their efforts and funding, the problems that plague the world get alleviated. What you do with your wealth talks a lot about the kind of person you are. These virtues of benevolence that these leaders exhibit are looked up to by the youth and in general all the people of the society, which not only help them but also strengthen their conscience. Philanthropy translates into kindness and rekindles hope in the world. An act of generosity can have huge impacts on the lives of some people and the happiness that one gets from helping the society and the people who need this help the most, is unparalleled. It is these acts of kindness that create an atmosphere of peace and harmony which make the world a better place.