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Money is Only Part of Philanthropy

Some people feel philanthropy is only about foundations donating lots of money, but that’s only one part. Philanthropy is about people giving their time, help and care to causes they support, making the world a better place to live in. Philanthropic activities come in many forms, some people choose to contribute a huge sum of money to charity or create a park for the community. Others provide scholarships for needy students, while others simply travel to lend a hand.


“A lot of great things require money, but all great projects begin with a dream and vision and caring and wanting to make a difference,” according to Don Smith, a Canadian philanthropist and owner of Smith’s Funeral Homes. He emphasized that “the results are a cumulative effect made up of many volunteers and not just the people who are able to give larger amounts of money.”

Smith is not your ordinary philanthropist, rather he is a strategic philanthropist, “who makes sure that his gifts make a difference, so if it’s a gift to a foreign country, there is sustainability.”

Smith is not just the money man, he is very involved with humanitarian work. He has traveled to an orphanage in Sierra Leone to deliver needed supplies of water, medicines and blankets. He also helped fund the orphanage’s recent building relocation. Next, Smith heads to Uganda to work with an agency, H2O 4 ALL, that does fresh water facility installations and fish farming. He then plans to take that technology over to the Sierra Leone orphanage, which is run through Network for Children in Need.

He has volunteered with more than 50 organizations. He gives about $50,000 to $75,000 to causes and agencies each year, not including capital gifts spread over several years. He’s led major fundraising efforts including co-chairing a $6-million capital campaign that renovated the emergency department of a hospital.

Smith explains how he does it. That means he automatically takes 10 per cent of any income he gets, whether from his job or investments, and sets it aside in a separate account “What’s really neat is it’s not like I have to find it. That money is not my money. It’s money to be used for the world.”

Sometimes, prayer or meditation he does in the mornings leads him to give to certain causes. Other times he’s motivated toward a cause that has afflicted people he knows personally. Whatever the motivation or the cause, he feels he has an obligation to give back. “If you think about Canada,” says Smith, “to whom much is given, of them is much required. We have so much here.”

We may not have Don Smith’s level of conviction, resources or methods, but can we become more strategic philanthropist?

[The Hamilton Spectator]
photo by us army africa

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