This is a week full of philanthropy for The Gotham Gal and me. We are attending two fundraisers for organizations we support and throwing one for an organization we started.

I woke up thinking about giving back and how important it has become to us. Neither of us grew up in environments that were deep in philanthropy but somehow we were drawn to it in our thirties.

The Gotham Gal got involved in MOUSE when it was formed and became the Board Chair a few years later. That was where we learned that we could bring others into things that mattered to us and help make a difference on those things.

We also learned that we could create our own family foundation and contribute stock to it. We have been doing that for almost twenty years now.

That foundation has allowed us to support causes that speak to us and to start philanthropic organizations where we thought there was a need and nobody was filling it.

A big part of doing philanthropy is engaging others in it. Philanthropic organizations need financial support and that need is never-ending. And no matter how generous one can be, it is never enough. So finding ways to introduce causes you care about to others and then convincing them to support them becomes the thing.

At first, I didn’t like making the ask. Then I tolerated it. Only recently have I learned to enjoy it.

I ask readers to support things on AVC all the time. If there is a business model for AVC, that is it. And I appreciate all the generosity that this community has shown over the years.

I hope all of you appreciate and enjoy giving back as much as we do. It is an amazing thing to be able to help others.

#hacking philanthropy

Comments (Archived):

  1. harris497

    Good post Fred. Sometimes we forget the important things…

  2. Emily Rasmussen

    Great post, thank you Fred. There’s an old philanthropy maxim that says “people give to people.” I think it’s time to shift that to a more modern and engaging approach – “people give with people.” At were inspired by the collaborative model of giving circles, where people pool their money and then decide together where to give a larger collective grant. They can vote, take turns nominating organizations, or get expert recommendations. We think this is the model for the future. Have you participated in any collective grantmaking like this?

  3. Tom Labus

    It was very interesting to listen to Jamie Dimon talk about JPM’s 500 million dollar effort to revitalize Detroit after the Crash. Is this philanthropy or PR or both? Maybe this is how we proceed now with the federal government so partisan and almost counter productive. Analysis of public cos will require someway to value these efforts.

  4. William Mougayar

    Any thoughts on the operational efficiencies of the recipient organizations when it is their job to deliver the donation benefits?Do you prefer to focus on efforts and causes where the funds go directly to those you are helping (vs. via an intermediary)?

  5. awaldstein

    Thanks for this Fred.Believing in the power of doing some good to the best of what you can afford is a test of our humanity.Though my real passion is working on projects using the leverage of tech to figure out how to raise moneys for environmental charities in innovative ways.What we started with Honu the CryptoKitty and what I’m working on in the early stages with a number of projects all utilizing NFTs.

  6. karen_e

    It made quite an impression on me to meet Charles Best (of Donors Choose) and his wife several years ago at one of your USV/AVC events. And your CS initiatives were always inspiring. And then we have JLM exhorting nonprofit board service here at the bar. Thanks, all.

  7. Dan T

    thank you for sharing. I learned about donors choose here and supported multiple projects – it was always cool to get the feedback from the students. I also learned about different kickstarter campaigns from you – and I am sure there is more. I’m sorry to hear that you were hesitant on the ask before. . . If you really think it might be a great “opportunity” that someone else might enjoy, it’s selfish to not share!

  8. Barrett Linburg

    One of my relatives launched an app recently that allows you to give to a charity in honor of someone else. I have started using it regularly and think it is a great way to start conversations about groups to support but also makes me think about how to give in order to properly honor someone else. this stage in my life and career I don’t have the time to devote to be on boards and actively ask for contributions but I can help start conversations with my own giving in this small way.

  9. Chris Phenner

    That post was moving, and so big; thank you, with respect.

  10. mfeinstein

    Glad to hear you enjoy making the ask. Makes me feel a little less guilty for my asks of you over the years!

  11. Nyagaka Ongeri

    Fred, I simply love this post!

  12. Douglas Crets

    One thing I have felt in my personal experience is that the need to give comes from my feeling that I am not getting anything at all that I want in a current system, or relationship, or in my business plans in a market. Giving, to me, has always been a first principle, in order to shift the time and attention to a focus on what is important in a place or a relationship setting that does not seem to take it into account. I like VC investing, incidentally, because I think VC investing, on a principles level, does the same thing. It gives time, resources, connections, and capital to something that is not being taken into account, and will not be recognized until it works.

  13. JLM

    .Capitalism.All of this is made possible through the system of capitalism.Capitalism has delivered the highest standard of living of all the -isms.Remember that when you vote.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  14. fredwilson

    Yupp. I do think explaining why it matters to you is important. But if you make it about you, then you’ve gone too far

  15. Ruhinda Ruganda

    Contributing to such a list is something I am happy to do and share my support of. The due diligence required to ensure your giving has impact can make it prohibitive. As much as i love giving, I like impact more.

  16. jason wright