(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


Everybody has written a check and donated to an organization or a cause. You may or may not be deeply involved, but you probably have felt pretty good about contributing. Or, you may only have given because you “should”. This is accidental philanthropy, where you collect the receipts from the gifts and report them on your income tax form (or inland revenue or whatever your government calls the annual tax process form), but there is no real involvement by you.

Intentional philanthropy is quite a bit different. When you are intentional about your giving you are involved in some personal way. Either you feel passionate about a cause or about the people involved in the cause. When you are giving your time, talent or financial resources to a cause make sure you really care about it. If you don t, pass.

A neat way to create enthusiasm for a project or cause that you have been asked to participate in but about which you have little emotion is to focus on the person who asked you. If you can connect with their enthusiasm, their joy and passion for the cause, then you can become an intentional philanthropist by choosing to honor them by honoring their request.

If you just write a check and forget it, you are practicing accidental philanthropy. If you enjoy supporting others and their efforts, you can become an intentional philanthropist.

Intentional philanthropy will make you bigger.


Copyright 2001 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.