Google Can’t Answer Every Question

by | Apr 23, 2015

I just read that effective people usually ask good questions – not just of others, but of themselves. Then I read this, “Life is a big question that even Google can’t answer.” I don’t know who said it, but it’s the right quote for this fast-paced internet-driven world we live in.

When you want to know something, how often do you Google it? I have to admit that I’ve become so reliant on Google that I don’t even think twice about it. It’s a second-nature response to my ever-curious mind. Did you catch that? I don’t think twice about it; probably, I don’t even think – I just Google it.

Frankly, I love to have answers, so it feeds my ego. I started young. I grew up with the “Book of Knowledge” on the family bookshelf. I spent hours flipping through the books, and it was my go-to solution when adults gave vague answers to my questions. So, here I am today without my trusted childhood source and now dependent on a fairly unreliable source. To top it off, I don’t spend enough time doing my own thinking.  That’s a serious challenge when it comes to philanthropy. Especially since Google can’t answer some of my philanthropy questions about giving. For instance, what’s the answer to this question?

How do you think change will happen?

The fact that I made a gift to an organization I care about suggests I expect some kind of change, but what change and how will I know it occurred?

Change questions are mind-bending. They are what Steven Crandell, author of the Your Philanthropy Roadmap from the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, describes as Philanthropy-Yoga.  His definition is “regularly asking deep questions about your giving in order to stay flexible as well as strategic.” He also makes a great point that if I’m an effective giver, I should ask questions of myself as often as I do others.

In fact, the change question is one of five from the Your Philanthropy Roadmap developed by Steven Crandell.  Here are the five key questions:

  1. Why are you giving?
  2. What do you want to achieve?
  3. How do you think change will happen?
  4. How will you assess progress?
  5. Who will join you?

You can see that none of these questions can be answered by GOOGLE. Every one of them is going to require Philanthropy Yoga – stretching, bending, reaching….thinking.

Thinking is important in philanthropy.  We need to spend time with each of these questions. Decide if some are more important than others.  However you work it out, the process is important. The larger the gift, the more important it becomes.

To give without thinking is the simplest form of philanthropy. There are a host of good reasons to give without thinking. You might give because the family always gave (like to a college alma mater), or to honor or memorialize someone (their favorite charity – not yours), or it’s a business transaction (your company name listed as a sponsor), or because a friend asked (and you know you will ask them in return).

If your intent is to be more strategic about your gift, then head back to those five questions first and do some thinking. Find someone you trust to help you think about it. If you don’t know who to call, call me.  I like Philanthropy-Yoga.

What question would you add to the list?  What do you think most about before you make a gift?


1 Comment

  1. Nancy Crawford

    Great article, Dawn. I completely relate to the Google reflex. So, do our LCOT students. I have borrowed a quote from one of my daughters whose college professor said, “The internet is a vast river…one inch deep.” We share this bit of wisdom with our students to get them to engage critical thinking skills when seeking information on-line. Again, great article. Thanks for sharing.
    Nancy Crawford


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