Philanthropy: Hard Work, Not Only Heart Work

Given $2.5 million to do anything you wanted, how would you spend it?

A typical ‘What-Would-You-Do’ question seemed to take on a greater significance during lesson yesterday after a slight modification. As an imaginary philanthropic foundation, we were compelled to direct these funds to ‘making the world a better place’ and what exactly did that entail?


Of all the needs in this world, we were prompted to think about where to begin the work of change and betterment. We were prompted to consider our priorities. This was especially difficult and yet such an important lesson for me. With my strength of Connectedness, my heart is sensitive to the universality of humanity such that I am easily burdened by all the needs I see around me in this world. Very often, it becomes hard to decide where and how to direct my energies most efficiently and effectively to effect change. Dr Paul Landow said on the first lesson,

‘Everybody can’t be everything in the world.’

Though he was referring to capitalizing on the strengths of everyone in the group to accomplish a task instead of attempting to master and juggle everything, I find this can be applied in this situation as well. There are many people doing many good things around the world today and in order to be part of the global movement of good work and change, I need to discern, prioritise and focus.

 Investing in others

As we got further absorbed into the role play activity, what brought most satisfaction was when we were confronted with a request for disaster relief, we realized that instead of funds, we could tap on the talent pool of the scholars that our grants funded to help out. It truly brought home how much more bountiful the returns to society when one chooses to invest long term in human capital, choosing to grow people, grow others instead of self.

 ‘Doing good’ is technical and conscious of the external

The process gave a glimpse of the technicalities of the funding process, that for good work to be effective, it had to involve more than the heart. It involved calculations, tough decisions, sacrifices, gains and losses. It was also interesting to note how the funding process was intricately linked to the happenings in the external environment (ie. Disasters, political crises etc etc) and did not take place in its own vacuum of ‘doing good work’. The entire process was organic and constantly in flux, responsive to external changes and conscious in its choice to participate or not participate in a recent development.

– Regina NG


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