Giving to charity is one of the most important elements of paying back our debt to society. Many patrons and philanthropists reach a stage in their life where they feel a compulsion to help others, and to change the world for the better. Ms. Lois Pope, the widow of National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope, works extensively with charities for children and the disadvantaged. Her donations and support help many thousands of people lead better, more fulfilled lives. The Gates Foundation is well on its way to raising enough money to eradicate malaria. This kind of giving, even on a smaller scale, can make a real difference to projects and people across the world.
Recent figures have shown philanthropic acts in the US accounted for over $1.2bn in funding for human rights projects in 2010. This is money that has come from Americans from all walks of life, across the wealth spectrum. But can charitable support and philanthropy change the world, or is there too much red tape to make any kind of difference?
One of the biggest areas that can benefit from donations and the generosity of individuals across the US is humanitarian aid. From domestic disasters to systemic humanitarian ill-treatment internationally, these are some of the most deserving causes of support. Whether it is diverted to education, crisis relief or health projects, humanitarian charities and organizations tend to work at a base level with those directly affected by these issues.
Similarly, development of third-world infrastructure can provide relief for the longer-term, with the hope of economic growth. For the world’s poorest countries, it is often the case that minimal infrastructure can deliver massive benefits. Projects that build schools or colleges can help people get a good education and go further in their lives. Investment in roads, rail and energy networks can improve the bonds and connections between regions and economic centers. These projects do not have to be massive in their scale to make a tangible difference.
Beyond development and humanitarian causes in the third and developing worlds, there are projects much closer to home that can benefit from private funding. Medical research and support work often lacks the right funding to achieve results – even small donations to these causes can fund work on an ongoing basis that can lead to breakthroughs in medical science. Research hospitals are a good example, where private funding sources are essential to the continuation of their work.
Or for those with a passion for education or the arts, direct patronage of an organization can help provide the same chances for future generations. No one can be compelled into philanthropy, but those who feel like they want to support others should think about causes close to their heart that could benefit from this level of support.
There are too many problems in the world for one person to solve. Regardless of the amount of money involved, expecting to right all the wrongs is perhaps too ambitious. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved in philanthropy around projects that you are passionate about. Those who have the means to donate and who want to help can make a massive difference to lives at home and abroad.
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