Business And Philanthropy

The more I study business, and the more I teach it, the more I see that corporate philanthropy is important. In other words those who have should share with those who have not had the same opportunities. Much of what is being discussed about corporate philanthropy would fall under the heading of Corporate Social Responsibility, but I also see this as a part of the Social Entrepreneurship movement. This could also be categorized as philanthro-capitalism. It has become so important that Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, who is a philanthropist, has been hired to teach it at Stanford.

Laura is actually very excited about the subject. “I think this whole convergence of philanthropy and technology is so exciting I can’t stand it, and it’s the reason I never seem to be sleeping and always seems to be drinking Taster’s Choice and yelling when I talk.” She has been teaching philanthropy at Stanford since 2000, and recently has started her own foundation that she describes as a innovation lab for giving. Her goal is to “democratize giving by providing online resources and programs to make donating more accessible to people at all levels of wealth.”

Another woman, in Portland, Oregon, is accomplishing something similar. Sandra Morris, with her company, CafeGive, has created a web platform that helps small to midsize companies organize their giving processes to allow employees to practice philanthropy. Both Laura and Sandra are successful business people, who see the importance of giving back.

Even though many corporations are including philanthropy in their business plan, I don’t think we have seen anything yet. Laura states, “The Millennials have more social consciousness than any other generation,” illustrated by the fact that, “72% of college students in a 2012 said that working for a firm that creates some sort of social impact is important to their happiness.”

Ms. Andreessen has had many opportunities that others haven’t. She is the daughter of a billionaire, who earned his billions in real estate, and is married to Mark Andreessen who co-founded Netscape. However, just like her father she has decided to be a philanthropist, and has chosen to teach others how to be philanthropic too. She has worked with Mark Zuckerberg , who gave $100 million to the Newark, New Jersey public schools in 2010.

Why does she doe this? I think her father’s example helped, but she also attributes it to another experience. “Her enthusiasm for philanthropy came from her late mother, who was active in nonprofits throughout her life. When Ms. Arrillaga-Andreessen was in her early 20’s, she took care of her mother while she had cancer.” For the first time in her life she said,” I had to live completely outside of myself and live for the purpose of another human being. Right before she passed, I made a commitment to her and to God and to myself that I would carry on her work…and hopefully one day take it to a greater level.”

I have come to the conclusion that wealth is not the problem, but the love of wealth is. When we grab, amass, and horde wealth for our selfish pleasure we lose the purpose of wealth. It is only as we see wealth as an opportunity to do good that we see the real purpose of wealth.

I believe that efficient business creates wealth, but I also believe that as we do efficient business we need to do it is a humane manner that is economically, socially, and environmentally sound.

And that is my thought for the day!

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