Discovering an Inspiring ‘Flow’ to be a Philanthropist

I love going on holiday, especially when reunited with family and friends.  Holidays are great moments to rejuvenate the soul. I find that reading on my holidays really rejuvenates my soul.

During this holiday, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the inspirational writing of Lynne Twist, THE SOUL OF MONEY. Twist is a global activist, fundraiser, speaker, consultant, and author focused on influencing change for the way most citizens of western societies relate to money. In SOUL OF MONEY, Twist addresses the three most common money stresses – 1.) there is never enough; 2.) having more is better; 3 having a lack of is just the way it is – and theorises that by changing our relationship with money we will naturally create a stress-free lifestyle and actually grow an income over time.

How? Twist suggests to live with mind of sufficiency. She says that everything should be thought to live like a flowing river, especially money. Money is constantly available to us no matter our perceived financial situation – there is enough to supply everyone and everything. She encourages her readers to think about what we spend our money and where it actually goes to, rooting our purchases in similar values and beliefs we hold true of ourselves. Twist says, “Whether you are aware of it or not, you make an impact each day with your choices about how you live and how you allocate you resources. If ‘money talks’ it is with our voice. Each financial choice you make is a powerful statement of who you are and what you care about. When you take a stand and have your money reflect that, it strengthens your sense of self.”

At one point in the book, Twist reflects on the life of Mother Theresa who built her organisation caring for the poor with no money. Her institution is now a multi-million dollar business. Mother Theresa believed that she always had enough and when she needed more, she trusted God to provide.

Twist ultimately believes in a “you-and-me” world, opposite to our current state of living in a “you-or-me” world. “None of us want our children or our children’s children to live in a your-or-me world where they have to fight for survival. We want those children to be free, self-expressed, living in harmony and collaboration, with reverence for life and the resources we all share. All of us want a you-and-me world.”

What is my point? What am I inspired about this book? I am inspired by Lynne’s words confirming that we are all naturally philanthropic. Twist acknowledges through her 40+ years in fundraising, “I have found that everyone everywhere wants to contribute their money to make a difference in the world…Philanthropy at any level enables people to get back in touch with [a flowing] relationship with money. In philanthropic interactions, we can return to the soul of money: money as a carrier of our intentions…money as a currency of love, commitment, and service; money as an opportunity to nourish those things we care most about.” Philanthropy, remember, is the act of giving back to a cause, idea, organisation or person that betters the future of the community. We all have values, passions and strong beliefs about what contributes to a positive community but how often do we take the time to acknowledge those beliefs? Are we too shy to take a stand and proclaim to others who we are?

If you are interested in exploring more philanthropic opportunities, especially by supporting Melbourne independent artists, please contact me via email at bcausearts@gmail.com. I would be honoured to connect you with an artist who shares similar passions and values with you.

For more information about Lynne Twist and her work for The Hunger Project, please visit www.lynnetwist.com.

Who and What Makes a Philanthropist?

I started BcauseARTS to raise awareness about two major topics I am very passionate about: the increasing interest and mystique into Australian philanthropy and the recent heartbreaking decision to cut over $100 million dollars of government support for the independent arts sector. I would like the BcauseARTS community to address important questions, topics and experiences within these two ideas.

So I begin today with defining “philanthropy.” What is it? What does it mean to be a philanthropist? According to Webster’s dictionary, “philanthropy” is defined as “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes.” Similarly, Wikipedia states that the word, of Greek decent, means “love of humanity.”

Think of all the kinds of non-profit organisations that exist and what they do: there are some organisations focused on child and family welfare, education, health and wellbeing, disease control and prevention, animal rights and well-being and (a personal bias) the arts. These organisations serve to build awareness of the unjust circumstances associated within the topic. For example, non-profits who support child and family welfare become the voice of those who have few because of current circumstance. They raise money to help the unfortunate souls break free from poverty.

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Fundraisers are becoming increasingly popular in Australia with at least one event happening monthly in Melbourne. As a runner, I personally keep track of all the upcoming races in and around Melbourne, most of which raise money for a non-profit health-related organisation. This past Sunday, for example, I participated in the MCG Stadium Stomp climbing over 7,000 steps and my admissions fee went to the Leukemia Foundation, a health and well-being non-profit organisation. I assume from my participation bib number there were at least over 3,600 participants. And according to the website, the Stomp raised $58,452.78 for the Leukemia Foundation!

Are those participants considered philanthropists? I say why not! They gave a moment of their time to participate in an event that benefited another's struggles.

So where are opportunities for more philanthropists outside of admission fees? A great opportunity is found at any museum, gallery or arts venue. Last Sunday (yes, the same day I did the Stadium Stomp…I planned a full day so my legs wouldn’t cramp after climbing over 7,000 steps) I visited the new exhibition at Federation Square’s Yarra Building called THE ABORIGINE IS PRESENT by Robyn Latham. The free exhibit, presenting every weekend throughout the month of July, is inspired by Marina Abramovic’s THE ARTIST IS PRESENT performed at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art a few years ago, and invites audiences to sit opposite members of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members and simply be ‘Present.’ According to a recent interview with The Age, Latham hopes the exhibition will allow Australians “to move past the shame, blame guilt, all of those things that are in the collective unconscious of most of Australia, to go beyond that, to actually seeing the person”. Though I am not a native Australian I focused on the opportunity for making human connection.

After my experience with THE ABORIGINE IS PRESENT I exited the Yarra Building and noticed a donation collection box with a sign taped to the front informing me that the Koorie Heritage Trust sponsored this exhibit. The Trust was collecting donations to continue its efforts to support future Aborigine art collections for the community’s enjoyment. What was most interesting is that no one person nor the box demanded I give or note how much I should give, but I did anyway. With very little money on me, I dropped $0.50 into the jar.

$0.50, I know, is not a lot but it can quickly add up. Let’s add some perspective: I noticed that there were roughly 15 people observing the exhibit during that same 20-minute time frame I attended. If each of those 15 people also dropped $0.50 into the donation collection box, the Trust would have raised $7.50. Now, going further, we can assume that of those 15 people, more money could be dropped in the collection other than $0.50 – let’s say every 3rd person dropped $1. In 20 minutes, the Trust could have raised $10! And what might the trust do with that money? According to that collection sign, it will go towards supporting more indigenous artists displaying quality entertainment benefitting the entire community.

The point being is that everyone has the ability and opportunity to be a philanthropist. Every cent makes sense and can be used to increase the “love of humanity.” And that’s why philanthropy exists.

I could go on and on about this topic for ages, but I want to open the floor up to the community. Let me know what you think philanthropy is all about, and how you may have participated in a philanthropic act recently. Also, what current exhibitions, performances, installations, street art, etc. have you experienced and others should see too? Share your comments below or you can email me at bcausearts@gmail.com. Please note: This is intended to be a safe community where opinions are valued and shared without fear of judgement or ridicule. Please respect the opinions and statement written in the comments.

I look forward to reading your words…

Help the research…

BcauseARTS is conducting research into philanthropy for the independent arts sector. We are assessing individual artists, arts organisations and supporters of the arts.

If you are a supporter of the arts and have 5 minutes to fill out a brief survey, please CLICK HERE

If you are an artist or a member of an independent arts organisation and have 5 minutes to fill out a brief survey, please CLICK HERE

Your contribution is greatly appreciated. Stay tuned for more information to come…