Four Philanthropic Mistakes You May Be Guilty Of

by | Jul 15, 2019 | Philanthropy

While we are free to choose our actions,
we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.
-Stephen Covey

Altruistic activities are anything but easy. Therefore, people who devote time and resources in this endeavor would naturally want to see great results. But as they say, bad things can happen even with the best intentions. For this reason, even noble acts such as philanthropy can sometimes cause more harm than good. Sometimes, people whose only aim is to extend help to others unknowingly commit mistakes that even aggravate the problem they want to solve. This is disheartening because an act of generosity can change lives for the better and start a ripple of goodness. To avoid letting your efforts to help others go to waste, you may want to reflect if you are guilty of the following philanthropic mistakes:

You aim to help but not to empower.

One criticism against philanthropy is that it has the tendency to lead to dependency. This happens when the giver treats beneficiaries as helpless individuals. Although you want to give your all when helping, remember that you cannot do everything by yourself all the time. To turn lives around, the ultimate aim of philanthropy should be to create ways that will teach people how to be independent. This can be done by helping and empowering people at the same time. Aside from giving funds or lending assistance when needed, philanthropy should also involve an effort to build people’s confidence that would later lead to self-sufficiency. The impact of a good deed will surely multiply if the focus is on empowering individuals. 

You help out of pity and not compassion.

Philanthropy becomes more meaningful if you do it for the right reasons. This includes examining your real motive for doing charitable works. Do you want to help someone out of pity or out of compassion? Do take note that compassion and pity are not the same and knowing their difference can make you a better philanthropist. You feel compassion when you identify with the situation of another person so you want to somehow relieve their pain or suffering. The urge to perform acts of kindness stems from the notion that the same misfortune can happen to you as well. On the other hand, pity is when you feel sorry for others because you deem them as less fortunate than you. To pity people while doing philanthropy can make others feel inferior or weak, emotions that are not helpful in the long run.

You treat it as a one-time thing.  

People who are truly serious about philanthropy understand that temporary solutions are rarely enough. You do not just donate a hefty amount of cash or spend a day in a welfare center. Instead, you invest time and resources to see that the cause you are supporting achieves its goals in the end. If everyone treats philanthropy as a one-time thing, their efforts will unlikely solve anything. 

You do it to fit in. 

Are you donating money or signing up for a cause because everybody at work or the circle you belong to is doing it? Maybe you are eager to participate in a charity event because it will score you some invites to a social event or allow you to mingle with wealthy people. Philanthropy is putting other people’s welfare before your own.Therefore, it is wrong to do it for selfish reasons. Doing it this way will keep you from experiencing the real rewards that come with doing something good. 

As a broad field that is open to many misconceptions, it is understandable if many would commit mistakes in an effort to engage in altruism. Even so, people who truly want to help do not allow mistakes to stop them. They understand that mistakes are meant to be corrected so they learn from it and take steps to avoid the same pitfalls. In the end, they become the genuine philanthropists this world so badly needs.