One of the things I hear most often these days since announcing Your Philanthropy is spinning off to become its own philanthropic consulting firm is, “I’m so excited for you…now explain again exactly what you’ll be doing?” The question usually can be interpreted to mean, “What kind of people will you help? And if it’s just wealthy people, then I don’t see myself in that way.”
The very use of the word “philanthropy” creates an image of financial wealth and affluence. A July article in the Wall St. Cheat Sheet reported that 50 percent of investors define wealth as “no financial constraints on activities.” But that’s only half of the investors’ opinions. What about the rest?
For me, defining wealth goes far beyond financial definitions and money clichés.
Over the last decade, the definition of wealth has broadened to include human, intellectual, social and financial capital. The age-old financial definition was expanded by Charles Collier in his 2001 book, Wealth in Families. It isn’t just about money.
It’s about a family’s message to future generations about how they live their lives, spend money, career choices, education, volunteering. Wealth is about conversations that prepare the next generation for assuming the responsibility of stewarding whatever amount or form of wealth a family passes on. In short, drawing on all forms of capital.
What will I be doing? Helping families have breakthrough conversations. Raising poignant questions, listening, resisting the urge to cast judgment or use prepackaged theories to explain messy, complex issues. It’s like the many layers of an onion, peeled slowly over time.
You have many forms of capital in your family. The answer to “Who is you?” To hear more about this broadened definition of wealth, join us on March 4 to hear Thayer Willis, author of Beyond Gold: True Wealth for Inheritors. Look for details in the YP Journal or on our homepage www.your-philanthropy.com.