Transformation Through Virtous Philanthropy

Mission: To inspire generations to abundantly fulfill their wealth legacy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bookmark: Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing

I'm pleased to share some news about my friend and fellow John Wiley & Sons author, Michael J. Rosen.

Rosen's book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, recently reached the number one planned-giving bestseller spot at Amazon.com! This book "helps nonprofit organizations move beyond traditional marketing techniques that have historically yielded only modest results and reveals how putting the focus on the donor can produce the best outcomes for all."

Visit Michael's website to learn more.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ask Margaret: What Color is Your Abundant Heart?

Q: Does your heart follow philosopher Thomas Hobbes?
A: Philosopher Hobbes defined philanthropy as "desire of good to another, benevolence, good will, charity, good nature." Yet despite these words, Hobbes had difficulty thinking anyone who was a philanthropist did so except to "enhance the esteem or 'honor' in which he was held in the community or to promote his own security and power."

Q: Perhaps you believe the words of Thomas Browne?
A: Browne, an English physician who is credited with the expression "charity begins at home," believed that charity required both cool-headedness and humility.

Q: Do your deeds follow in the footsteps of Andrew Carnegie?
A: Carnegie expressed in his 1889 essay Wealth, which later became known as The Gospel of Wealth, "Thus is the problem of rich and poor to be solved. The laws of accumulation will be left free; the laws of distribution free. Individualism will continue, but the millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor; entrusted for a season with a great part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it could or would have done for itself."

Just giving money to the poor or needy was not acceptable without also teaching them moral lessons. Carnegie believed philanthropy's purpose was to "stimulate the best and most inspiring of the poor...for efforts to further their own improvement."

Take time this week to write down two authors or poets that inspire your giving. Does your giving philosophy align with your values? 

Do you have a question about women and philanthropy, wealth management or planned giving? E-mail Margaret at mm@margaret-may.com. Your question might be featured in an upcoming blog and e-newsletter.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bookmark: Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

Whether you prefer to connect face-to-face or via Facebook, you're sure to enjoy the book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do by Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD and James H. Fowler, PhD.

According to research by Christakis and Fowler, your friends and your friends' friends can make you fat -- or thin. Can they also make you a miser or a philanthropist? The authors reveal how our real-life social networks drive and shape virtually every aspect of our lives. Find out how easily we can be influenced by the people we choose to play, party and plot with.

Visit Amazon.com to learn more and purchase a copy.

Sign up for Margaret's e-newsletter at Margaret-May.com and get her book reviews and latest thoughts on Women, Wealth and Giving direct to your e-mail inbox.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ask Margaret

Q: What, in your opinion and experience, is the most compelling reason that women donate their money?
-- Shannon, West Palm Beach

A: There are typically three reasons that compel women to give:
1. Tax benefits -- IRS charitable deductions as permitted on Form 1040.
2. Participation in a program sponsored by the organization; volunteered time and talent to the organization; or a connection to an organization through a friend or family member.
3. A personal experience or a family member's experience with services from the organization; or a strong affinity with the cause or mission.

Do you have a question about women and philanthropy, wealth management or planned giving? E-mail Margaret at mm@margaret-may.com. Your question might be featured in an upcoming blog and e-newsletter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bookmark: Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life

Each month, Margaret features a person, place or favorite thing that inspires her, with the hope that it will inspire you, too.

Golf is great, but an "Encore Career" may bring more satisfaction and yes, perhaps even happiness to a generation of boomers who find themselves getting in the mood to take up Peggy Lee's mantra, "Keep on dancing...if that's all there is..." And that dancing is leading them right off the dance floor and directly into the freedom to do some fancy footwork in an "Encore Career."

Marc Freedman's book, Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, tells the stories of men and women moving beyond their midlife careers into a new phase of work. This work not only offers continued income, but the promise and reality of a more meaningful life by doing work that personally connects their values to their vision for a better world.

If it is true, as many economists purport, that the American Dream has turned into a nightmare, then perhaps there is a transformation taking place among several generations. As we join together, we create a new American Dream that includes caring, sharing and "Encore Careers" as part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Conspicuous Consumption is making way for Conspicuous Compassion in the workplace.

Find Encore at Amazon.com

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ask Margaret

Q: A recent article, “Two-Thirds of Donors Plan to Cut Back on Giving This Fall,” appeared in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. If such is the case, what can charities do to be proactive?

A: Continue to subscribe to the KISS principle. The media, especially 24/7 TV and talk radio, has many smart, educated and normally happy people running around like Chicken Little believing “The sky is falling.” Is saying it's so making it happen? Are we wishing ourselves more doom and gloom than necessary?

OK, what does all this have to do with keeping donors on the books and happy, and perhaps even increasing their year-end contributions? Here are three KISS ideas:

1) Say “thank you,”
2) Say “thank you” again and,
3) Say “thank you” one more time.

Do this three times before the end of the year. And with each “thank you,” whether by phone, handwritten note or e-mail, give one compelling story of how the donor’s contribution has impacted a life or issue to make the world a better place. Make it personal and tell a story. Remember words from the heart go to the heart.

Stay connected to the heartbeat of your donor with a sincere “thank you” and a genuine story.

I welcome thoughtful responses and additional questions from readers. E-mail me at mm@margaret-may.com.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Is the Phoenix Rising in Philanthropy?

Perhaps, all the chaos and uncertainly in the world is the perfect nesting place from which the mythical, sacred fire bird is about to be reborn to reignite the flame of compassion, goodwill and benevolence in the human heart. In Greek mythology, Herodotus tells of the bird’s unique ability to be consumed by fire and reborn from the ashes. Throughout the ages, the colorful and stately phoenix’s appearance has been depicted as a sign of a coming age of prosperity and greatness for people and of nations.

Recently, I’ve been pondering, in what personification the phoenix might rise, if indeed I allow myself the luxury to indulge in a mystical and meditative moment or two, as the frantic milieu of daily life whizzes by at warp speed. From my perspective, I believe it will manifest itself in the philanthropic arena. Perhaps not apparent to the wealth holders and well-to-do philanthropists, but rather the rising will take place in the emergence of a new cohort of philanthropic advisors for the wealth holder to dialogue with about their dreams and aspirations for family and community.

Lori Denison, Tony DeBruyn, Danielle Cameron, Phil Cubeta, and
Margaret May. May, president of the Institute for Women and Wealth
and co-facilitator for the West Palm Beach Chartered Advisor in
Philanthropy (CAP) study group welcomes Phil Cubeta of
The American College, Bryn Mawr, PA, professor in
philanthropy, and the Sallie and Bill Wallace endowed chair in
philanthropy; as well as Tony DeBruyn, Capital Planning, Dallas,
TX, at a reception in their honor at the Commnity Foundation of
Palm Beach and Martin County, FL, on October 24, 2011.

These advisors will have the expertise, according to Phil Cubeta, the author of the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP) curriculum at The American College, to “Take a leadership role in convening the [ultimate] planning team needed to accomplish the wealth holder’s highest aspirations for self, family, and society.”

Cubeta is the Sallie B. and William B. Wallace Chair in Philanthropy at the college and recently visited with members of the West Palm Beach CAP multi-disciplinary study group. They are 24 highly regarded thought-leaders, dedicating 18 months of time, talent and money to co-create the symmetry and synergy for a “network of good” in the community. It was evident from Cubeta’s remarks, and those of Dallas CAP participant Tony DeBruyn, that sparks are beginning to ignite among professional advisors. These sparks are kindling a common purpose around a shared body of knowledge to help wealth holders do great things for the charities they love and support.

Could this be the new phoenix rising in philanthropy? CAP study groups seem to be spreading like wildfire around our country.

To learn more about women and philanthropy, follow Margaret May on Facebook, Twitter @MM_Philanthropy, or visit www.margaret-may.com and sign up for her monthly e-newsletters.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Philanthropic Therapy: Can Meaning and Money Mix?

Recently, I had the occasion to speak at the national Financial Planning Association (FPA) Conference in San Diego. One of the benefits of participating in such a venue is the joy of hearing the best of the best thought leaders in the financial planning profession.

Once again, I was rewarded with an “aha moment” as I experienced George Kinder’s life planning and financial coaching session. The Kinder Institute of Life Planning takes a holistic approach when designing a wealth holder’s financial plan. Holistic to the point that one of the Institute’s participants, CFP Rick Kahler, in Rapid City, South Dakota, is a leading proponent and co-founder of the Healing Money Issues Program.

Kahler and his colleagues at the Financial Therapy Association believe this emerging field of financial therapy, a very sensitive and highly emotional profession, can help clients understand and work through the issues blocking their ability to deal effectively with money and life planning.

All this leads me to the question, could such a concept, under the right circumstances and with properly trained and qualified practitioners, benefit those in the field of giving philanthropic advice to wealth holders? Would there be a safe space for individuals with wealth who are searching for the meaning of their money during their lifetime to openly discuss their fear, hopes, and dreams? Could a dialogue take place that would ethically and emotionally help clients discover and understand their life-stories about money? And in this setting would the dialogue help foster a cultural shift in society’s consciousness that would allow a free flowing and honest conversation as to the good money can do to bring more balance and harmony into the world?

It’s a fact, “Money Makes the World Go ‘Round,” so let’s find a way to get on the merry-go-round and grab the brass ring for the greater good.

Stuart Wilde, author of The Little Money Bible, says, “Money is just a symbol we use to facilitate the gathering of memories and experiences. It assists in interaction with others, and it allows us to come to concepts of honor and integrity, fairness and compassion.”

Is this the meaning of money that so many are looking for in their philanthropic life planning? And if so, is there a way philanthropic therapy can make that happen?

To learn more about women and philanthropy, follow Margaret May on Facebook, Twitter @MM_Philanthropy, or visit www.margaret-may.com and sign up for her monthly e-newsletters.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is the Little Engine that Can Coming over the Mountain?

No it’s not a misprint.

Yes, I am referring to a favorite children’s book of mine, “The Little Engine that Could,” written by Watty Piper, the pen name of Arnold Munk. There are several versions of the story, but the underlying theme is the locomotive on the train caring the toys breaks down as it begins its climb over the mountain. Several engines more mighty and powerful refuse to help, and finally the little engine, not nearly as mighty, appears, and against all odds becomes the heroine of the day, pulls the train over the mountain, all the while chanting “I think, I can—I think, I can."

Yes, the heroine saves the day. And while not overtly using personification, the story does identify the mighty and powerful engines with the “he” pronoun, and the engine that offers and succeeds coming over the mountain and delivering the toys to the children with the “she” pronoun.

It has long been my supposition that one of the interpretations of this fable is the subconscious message that, as girls and women, we can aspire and do for ourselves, friends, family and community, what we ethically believe in and truly value for the greater good of civil society. And that we have the ability and the right to the “pursuit happiness,” believing we can achieve, what Eleanor Roosevelt described as “the beauty of our dreams.”

But one may ask, “How is this possible in a world where four out of five people believe our moral compass is no longer pointing due north?”

I am neither an historian, nor an economist; I am a boom-generation woman who believes in the beauty of my dream for a more compassionate and harmonious world. From my travels and talks around the country, I have met hundreds, if not thousands of women who, each in her own way, also believes in the beauty of her dream.

Together, in concert with our heartfelt passion and purpose, we make up a generation (73 million men and women) about to come over the mountain, pulling civil society toward a renewed vision for a more caring and compassionate world. Not only do we think we can, we know we must, using our time, talent and treasure to demonstrate that abundance and optimism are part of the beauty of our dream and the legacy we will leave.

Some will contribute by their work in the corporate world, others through the government sector. But the “Little Engine that Can” has found its home and leadership destiny in the philanthropic sector.

We know we can, we know we can. Here we go, over the mountain.

To learn more about women and philanthropy, follow Margaret May on Facebook, Twitter @MM_Philanthropy, or visit www.margaret-may.com and sign up for her monthly e-newsletters.

Bookmark: Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl - And Why You Should, Too

I seldom splurge on books at the airport. There’s enough reading material in my carryon for the entire flight and more… but, the title caught my eye. I couldn’t resist finding out how “Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl: And Why You Should, Too.”

Hmm, I thought, is this the real Midwest secret to success or just plain common sense? Turns out, it’s a bit of both. Author Louann Lofton offers the reader both the statistical and anecdotal evidence that women’s admirable qualities such as collaboration, commitment, nurturing, and inquisitive temperament are the perfect ingredients for a winning investment strategy. The reader not only gets insight into how Buffett parlayed his meager investments, starting when he was a teenager, into the “largest and greatest investment portfolio in human history,” but also validates what psychologists have known for decades that women have the kind of temperaments that help achieve long-term success in business and investing.

The two investment traits that resonate with women are consistent and persistent returns – not spectacular but not in the cellar, either. For example Hedger Fund Research, Inc. traced the annualized performance of female-managed hedge funds from 2000 to May 2009. In the 2008 financial meltdown, women-managed funds dropped 9.61 percent compared to 19.03 percent for other primarily male-managed funds. And in good times, funds managed by women returned an average of 9.06 percent compared to just 5.82 percent averaged by a weighted index of other hedge funds.

So what’s the bottom line? There are eight feminine traits, according to the authors, that both men and women can use to improve their investment performance. Bet you can name most of them without reading the book – and if you included having less testosterone – well, that makes nine.

Find Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl on Amazon.com.

To learn more about women and philanthropy, follow Margaret May on Facebook, Twitter @MM_Philanthropy, or visit www.margaret-may.com and sign up for her monthly e-newsletters.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Philanthropist Jane Addams’ legend lives on through Nobel recipients

In the 110-year history of the Nobel Peace Prize, only 12 women have been honored for their courageous leadership in the struggle for women’s rights. Among them is peace activist and philanthropist, Jane Addams, Mother Teresa, and Wangari Maathai.

On Oct. 7, history was again made when Thorbjorn Jagland, the head of the Nobel committee, announced that three influential women from Africa and the Middle East were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011. Two of the winners were from Liberia: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female president in post-colonial Africa, and the peace activist Leymah Gbowee.

2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman Photograph: Getty
Tawakkol Karman, a prominent female figure in Yemen’s populist uprising this year, was honored for her work to establish a human rights group called “Women Journalists Without Chains,” and her work to galvanize Yemini youth in their ongoing pro-democracy uprising.

The committee’s decision continues to highlight the passion and persistence of women around the world to devote their lives to equality and justice for women. It also draws attention to the suppression of women’s rights around the world.

Such an honor to women in Africa and the Middle East leads one to look here in the Untied States for contemporary champions in the political arena of women’s rights.

In September, I was the keynote speaker for the University of Northern Iowa’s 5th annual “Power of the Purse.” During the event, I had the honor of talking with former Lt. Governor of Iowa, Joy Corning, about her leadership in a 10-year effort culminating in 2020 (the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment) to see women hold half the seats in the Iowa legislature and elect a female governor.

The effort isn’t simply about gender equality, but also to bring a different perspective to public service. From my research, it is evident that women see issues through a different lens, looking for ways to foster more consensus building, with a more pragmatic perspective when it comes to financial matters.

Perhaps there is the making of another Jane Addams on the horizon right here in the good old USA, a cohort of American women seeking parity in politics. Stay tuned.

To learn more about women and philanthropy, follow Margaret May on Facebook, Twitter @MM_Philanthropy, or visit www.margaret-may.com and sign up for her monthly e-newsletters.

Monday, September 19, 2011

If Money Can’t Buy Happiness, Perhaps Philanthropy Can!

I’ve been reading a lot about happiness these days. Well, more about how we are all unhappy and searching far and wide for our personal wellbeing.

Aristotle calls it Eudemonia – wellbeing of the soul; Buddhism refers to it a Nirvana – spiritual enlightenment. As the song laments, “Money makes the world go round,” but what about our happiness, wellbeing and enlightenment?

It seems the current economy reflects the fact that conspicuous consumption is fading into the sunset as more and more men and women search the horizon for the vibrant hue of conspicuous compassion in their life and work. Could it be that we are on the cusp of a transformative moment in history? And if so, can philanthropy take a leading role in setting a new ethical and moral agenda by putting money to work to bring happiness to the giver and the receiver?

As I travel around the country giving keynote speeches, I meet more and more women in my “Three Principles of Abundance” workshops that are articulate and passionate in their belief that we are entering a psychological turning point in our country. Women tell me they feel empowered as philanthropists to create for themselves and their community an environment where innovative thinking and decision making flows more openly and freely.

In Nebraska this summer, a woman proudly said to me, “I am blessed to wear my heart on my sleeve, and I encourage all my friends to do the same. We can change the world before it’s too late.”

I sense a growing urgency that more women look to be involved in philanthropy as a way to foster caring relationships and communities in more sustainable ways than by voting. The nonprofit or social sector, as it is called by some, is congruent with boomer women’s goals of bringing virtue back into vogue, and using the philanthropic platform to reshape the ethical and morals for the next generation.

In other words, this is the right generation of women, advancing in the appropriate sector, at the optimal time in history, to find happiness in philanthropy. Women’s money, time, and talent is transforming communities, one thought and one deed at a time. Women’s transformative leadership for the greater good is reaching critical mass through philanthropic endeavors and bringing more happiness than money can buy.

To learn more about women and philanthropy, read "Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation." Find Margaret May on Facebook, Twitter @MM_Philanthropy, or visit www.margaret-may.com.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Five Ways Women Philanthropists “Speak Female”

In a recent workshop in Tampa for the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, I presented my research on how to “Speak Female” and the impact it has to engage women to excel in their philanthropy. Women as philanthropists are no longer a niche market – it is THE market for philanthropy. To “Speak Female” is to be a role model for the next generation.

Philanthropy is congruent with women’s goals and aspirations to make a difference in society. Women believe that the philanthropic platform serves as a voice to “Speak Female” and reshape the ethics and morals in our society and reset the compass due north for the next generation.

Speak Female
To “Speak Female” is to be:

1) Empowered with the ability to implement our nurturing and caring strengths

2) Expedient – in the search to find creative solutions to existing social ills

3) Entrepreneurial in thinking outside the box for unlikely resources and partners for the greater good

4) Engaged in authentic and meaningful work reflective of personal values

To “Speak Female” is creating a new voice and vision for women as philanthropists as they join together worldwide to co-create the world we want for the future.

Read more about how to “Speak Female” in "Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation." Find Margaret May on Facebook, on Twitter @MM_Philanthropy, or visit www.margaret-may.com.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Virtues of Passion in Changing Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Gridlock in Washington, riots in London… has Charles Dickens’ epic novel A Tale of Two Cities become more fact than fiction some 152 years since it was first published? And what does all this have to do with philanthropy (the third sector)? From my perspective, quite a lot.

If one believes as I do, the sage wisdom of the late Robert Payton, former director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, philanthropy holds some of the answers to moving our nation forward in these ‘best and worst of times.’

“The only basis for a claim of special consideration for philanthropy is that it is the principal means by which our ethics and values shape the society in which we live,” said Payton. Certainly government gridlock and corporate greed (the other two sectors that make up our society) have not kept our moral compass heading due north in recent years. Quite the opposite. When classic virtues come under siege or become incongruous with contemporary social culture and customs, where is society to turn for some direction? Where is there a virtuous resolution to a values revolution? And more importantly, how does one effectively engage both men and women in the pursuit of a more benevolent and beneficent world?

Ellen Remmer, president and CEO of The Philanthropic Initiative, Inc. (TPI) in Boston, recently blogged on the virtues of passion to spark and drive personal philanthropy. Remmer writes, “Passion in philanthropy is about making a commitment to your most important beliefs and values.”

Now, more than ever, the idealistic dreams of the boom generation have a reason to shine. Save the world one good deed at a time. Wipe off the tarnish of decades of conspicuous consumption and take to the streets with conspicuous compassion with renewed passion and zest.

In my book, co-written with Niki Nicastro McCuistion, Women, Wealth & Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation, I identify ‘passion’ as one of the three key principles necessary for each of us to center our search in the pursuit of happiness (Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence). Giving with passion enriches integrity in life. This is a way to identify in our heart the greatest desires for the use of our time, talent, and treasure that we are blessed to control while we are on this earth and remember to engage them in the spirit of justice, prudence, and moderation. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung notes that later in life, individuals have the opportunity to look deeper within and recover renewed vitality and zest.

Life at times can become confusing and complicated. Having the ability to center thoughts and deeds on conspicuous compassion can simplify life and free the mind and the soul to be attentive to seeing the needs of others and being open to creative solutions. It brings clarity of focus to what’s important in life, and it can reprioritize values to complement vision and redirect wealth to bring more meaning into life and the work we do.

To learn more ways the philanthropic sector can play a leading role in guiding our nation back to true north in these foolish and destructive times, visit http://blog.tpi.org/ and get ready to fire-up your passion.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Philanthropy: Big, Bold and Beautiful Giving

Big, Bold and Beautiful: the three new B's in philanthropy
“To give away money is an easy matter and in anyone’s power. 
But to decide whom to give it and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every person’s power- nor an easy matter.
Hence it is that such excellence is rare, praiseworthy and noble.” 
– Aristotle 

“Big, Bold, Beautiful” are the three new B’s in philanthropy. And one can participate in many ways. The rich and famous, such as Paul Allen, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet and David Rockefeller (and the rich and soon-to-be famous for their generosity) are getting on board through “The Giving Pledge.” It’s a moral commitment to give the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice during their lifetime or after their death. To date, more than 68 billionaires have taken the pledge to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Such a statement is bold in concept and will be even bolder in execution.

In June, The Chronicle of Philanthropy ran a story by Maria Di Mento announcing that more than 60 of the nation’s largest foundations, including Robert Wood Johnson, General Mills and the Wallace Foundation, have signed “Philanthropy’s Promise” a pledge sponsored by the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy to channel a majority of their grant money to needy people as well as advocacy efforts to encourage citizens to get involved in their communities. Coming to a meeting of the minds among large foundations will be a big win for such under-served communities such as women and girls and economically disadvantaged minority groups.

So what about Beautiful? Last year, I met an extraordinary individual, Jason Franklin. We were both in Philadelphia to participate in Tracy Gary’s Inspired Legacies workshop. We both were celebrating milestones in our lives. John Wiley and Sons, New York had recently published my book, Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation that I co-authored with Niki Nicastro McCuistion and Jason had just been appointed as the executive director of Bolder Giving. In addition to deep discussion at the workshop, we all took time out to follow Jason and practice our singing – and as you can hear on the video, we all decided to keep our day jobs!

At the Inspired Legacies workshop, Jason announced that Bolder Giving had received a challenge grant from the Gates Foundation (BIG!). A year later, this July 14, Jason announced Bolder Giving met and exceeded the challenge and Bolder Giving took a “huge leap forward toward our dream of transforming the culture of philanthropy.” Bolder Giving does this by developing partnerships to share the message of giving to millions of people (ordinary citizens with perhaps more to give in time and talent than treasure, but willing to stretch their treasure in a bolder way.) How beautiful is this!?!

It seems to me there is a convergence of “Big, Bold and Beautiful” happening in philanthropy and the time is right for societal giving of time, talent and treasure (see Kelly Beard’s blog post, below) to excel in excellence so that rare, praiseworthy and noble philanthropy is a way of life for everybody.

Read more about how you can be a "Big, Bold and Beautiful" philanthropist in "Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation," or visit www.margaret-may.com.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Volunteers: worth their weight in gold

Kelly Bruce Beard
By Guest Blogger Kelly Bruce Beard

The beautiful thing about philanthropy is that it comes in all shapes and sizes. You don't have to be a multimillion dollar donor to make a big impact. Your community, or organization of choice, will be forever grateful if you volunteer your time or talent - which are "treasures" in and of themselves.

I had to chuckle to myself during a recent volunteer project when an older woman standing next to me said to the group, "How did we get someone under 20 to volunteer?" Being the youngest in the room, I knew she was referring to me - and was quite flattered she thought I was under 20! (That new face cream must be working!) I quickly introduced myself, surprised our paths hadn't crossed since I had been volunteering quite actively for the organization for close to two years.

Nevertheless, it was surprising to me that a volunteer "stereotype" still existed in my small town. I had been raving to my family and friends about how charity- and volunteer-driven the young people in my community are. But for many, the word "volunteer" still brings to mind retirees and rich housewives.

I can confidently say that stereotype is changing. I am so proud to be surrounded by volunteers of all ages while helping out a number of organizations. One of the main reasons is the community service hours assigned to local high school teens - required for graduation at many schools. It's also a prerequisite on most college applications these days. And while it may be required at first, volunteerism is fostering a group of caring, community-oriented, dedicated young adults. And I believe most of these teens will continue to serve their communities wherever the future takes them. (And I am thrilled to think of them as tomorrow's leaders and our country's future).

I might not have grown up with a community service quota, but I still find myself deeply involved in my community. For me, volunteering stems from a desire to help others and create a brighter future for the next generation. I'm newly married, the owner of a "fixer upper" (our first home) and a small business owner, so I don't have a lot of money to give. Volunteering is the natural choice for me, and I am constantly rewarded with smiling faces and the satisfaction of seeing the events that I helped coordinate become a success.

In the end, volunteers do raise money and offset costs, a true treasure for budget-strapped communities and not-for-profit organizations everywhere.

Learn more about how you can make the most of your donation of time, talent and treasure in "Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation," or visit www.margaret-may.com.  

Kelly Beard is the owner of New Growth Media, LLC. Visit her website at NGMedia.biz to learn more.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Empowerment, Part 2

Empowerment is visioning. It is taking responsibility for your actions and controlling your future. Empowerment allows you to draw on your knowledge, combine it with your experience and your values, and act from an internal locus of motivation, acting with strength and taking initiative. It traditionally has not been the strength of women, who too often turned over their power to others.

As activist Petra Kelly reminds us, "We must work from our own values and elevate their influence to those of men. There is a saying, 'where power is, women are not.' Women must be willing to be powerful. Because we bear scars from the ways men have used their power... women often want no part of power."

We believe it is the patriarchic definition of power as authority and control that women want no part of, rather than power itself. Women do see power as a way to achieve their goals, and part of the destiny for boom-generation women is to redefine power using their values, which include nurturing and egalitarianism.

The foundation for empowerment is abundance, the wealth we recognize from within our soul as the energy we celebrate by our words, actions, and deeds.

Daniel H. Pink in his book, A Whole New Mind, says, "Abundance has brought beautiful things to our lives, but that bevy of material goods has not necessarily made us much happier. That's why more people - liberated by prosperity, but not fulfilled by it - are resolving the paradox by searching for meaning." Pink reminds us that "as more of us lead lives of abundance we'll have a greater opportunity to pursue lives of meaning."

Hundreds of millions of people all over the world no longer have to struggle for survival. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert William Fogel writes, this has "made it possible to extend the quest for self-realization from a minute fraction to almost the whole of it."

Most especially for boomer women, as they empower themselves and others to fully realize their vision for a better world, the acquisition of material abundance accelerates  their need and heightens their desire for self-realization and meaning in their life.

In a recent management certification class, counselor and career coach, Dr. Sherry Bluffington, author of The Law of Abundance emphasized, "Ultimately, it is happiness, contentment and a deep sense of satisfaction that are the true measures of abundance."

And unless we own the responsibility of empowerment for ourselves and fulfill it through meaning, philanthropy and our virtuous legacy for our communities suffer.

Read more about empowerment in "Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation," or visit www.margaret-may.com.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Empowerment, Part 1

All life is an expression of a single spiritual unity. We can no longer afford false divisions between work and community, between ethics and economics. But how can we change from a system which values endless increasing profit and materialism, to one in which the core values are community, caring for the environment, creating, and growing things and personal development?
The answer: We empower people.
~ Dame Anita Roddick (1942-2007)

Give yourself power
Empowerment is something you give yourself, not something you get from someone else. And it is not a zero-sum process, where one person's gain is balanced by another person's loss. Rather, it is the dynamism and intensity that a woman uses to bring focus and clarity to how her values connect to the philanthropic issues she defines as important in her life. It is a process by which she chooses how to direct her energy to find creative solutions for those critical issues. She must take an active role in finding ways to leverage her energy with that of others also in pursuit of creative solutions to their social concerns. A woman empowers herself by her ability to establish goals, monitor progress, and evaluate the impact of her philanthropic agenda as it relates both to individual progress and community betterment. It is a process that provides a structure for her philanthropic journey and brings purpose into her life.

Some have called empowerment the force that keeps all the dots connected. Some call it the force that gives the courage and fortitude to transcend doubt and distrust in one's ability to transform dreams into reality, while others say it is the force that leads them to collaborate with other like-minded individuals and community members. Empowerment shifts the consciousness of a woman's mind-set from what has been to what can be, through the synthesis of her creative thought in meaningful association with other community members who are also charged by an energy grounded in the integrity of purpose, the wisdom of passion, and the freedom of that comes with power.

Read more about empowerment in "Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation," or visit www.margaret-may.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Leaders from the Nonprofit Sector Commit to Grow Philanthropy in USA

Charleston, S.C (July 19, 2011) – Thirty-six of the leading U.S.-philanthropy experts, including nonprofit leaders, technology suppliers and consultants, and associations, recently gathered to discuss how the nonprofit sector can work together to grow the level of individual giving by Americans. The Growing Philanthropy Summit, held last month in Washington D.C., was sponsored by Blackbaud, Inc. and Hartsook Companies and was hosted by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

“We believe it is possible to significantly grow the level of individual philanthropy in the United States,” said Adrian Sargeant, professor of fundraising. “While over $290 billion dollars was given to good causes in 2010, individual donors are no more generous now than when data was first collected some 40 years ago. Despite the increasing professionalization of fundraising, the rapid growth in global wealth in the 1990s, developments in electronic/mass communications, and new financial mechanisms that facilitate fundraising, giving has been largely unmoved, remaining static at around 2 percent.”

The Summit focused on how to grow giving by enhancing the quality of the donor experience. The next step will be to generate a series of recommendations and to secure the assistance of key audiences, including foundations, nonprofit boards, and legislators among other groups, to actively move them forward.

A report detailing the recommendations will be released in September with plans for how each idea should be implemented and the metrics that might be used to ensure both implementation and impact.

“Increasing giving beyond 2 percent of GDP will only happen if we, as an industry, can entice donors to shift some of their discretionary income to nonprofits,” said Marc Chardon, Blackbaud’s chief executive officer. “At the Summit, we made a good start on recommendations for building the quality of personal and emotional benefits donors receive from giving through enhanced relationships with the organizations they are supporting. I look forward to seeing the detailed recommendations in September and helping further the collective goal of growing philanthropy in the United States.”

Initial discussions centered on the following four themes:
  • Improving the quality of fundraising education and professional development
  • Enhancing the quality of relationships that donors and prospective donors might have with the nonprofits they support
  • Building public trust and confidence in the sector
  • Identifying new forms and channels for giving with the greatest potential for growth and how this might be achieved
“The Summit provided a great dialogue for me and helped me realize that there needs to be a much greater emphasis on communicating better and in using the research we have to interact with all of the diverse populations involved in growing philanthropy,” said Margaret May Damen, event attendee and president of The Institute for Women and Wealth. “We need to lead both the corporate and government sector to look at a new way to solve problems.”

Videos from the event are now available at www.blackbaud.tv/nonprofit-news

About Blackbaud 
Blackbaud is the leading global provider of software and services designed specifically for nonprofit organizations, enabling them to improve operational efficiency, build strong relationships, and raise more money to support their missions. Approximately 24,000 organizations — including The American Red Cross, Cancer Research UK, Earthjustice, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Lincoln Center, The Salvation Army, The Taft School, Tulsa Community Foundation, Ursinus College, the WGBH Educational Foundation, and Yale University — use one or more Blackbaud products and services for fundraising, constituent relationship management, financial management, website management, direct marketing, education administration, ticketing, business intelligence, prospect research, consulting, and analytics. Since 1981, Blackbaud’s sole focus and expertise has been partnering with nonprofits and providing them the solutions they need to make a difference in their local communities and worldwide. Headquartered in the United States, Blackbaud also has operations in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.blackbaud.com.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Margaret May Damen earns Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation

Margaret May Damen
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., June 6, 2011 – Margaret May Damen, CFP, CLU, ChFC, president of the Institute for Women and Wealth, recently earned the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) professional designation from the Richard D. Irwin Graduate School of the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Damen is co-author of “Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation,” published by John Wiley & Son, NY in 2009. She is also the planned giving director for the United Way of Martin County Foundation and planned giving and endowment officer for the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. Damen is a local board member for the Palm Beach County Planned Giving Council and a national board member of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning. She is also a frequent speaker at Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Professionals (AHP) and Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP) national conferences.

The CAP® program provides professionals in the nonprofit and financial services fields that work with individuals and families in the development and implementation of philanthropic programs with the knowledge and tools needed to help clients reach their charitable giving objectives, while also helping them meet their estate planning and wealth management goals.

Candidates for the CAP® designation must complete an advanced curriculum addressing the issues of advanced design, implementation and management of charitable gift techniques and strategies, as well as philanthropic tools including charitable trusts, private foundations, supporting organizations, donor advised funds, pooled income funds and charitable gift annuities. More than 350 individuals have been awarded the CAP® designation since its inception in 2001.

To learn more about Margaret May Damen, visit www.Margaret-May.com.

About the American College
The American College for over 82 years is dedicated to leadership in innovative training and development that helps financial services companies and their employees succeed. As a non-profit educational institution, the college serves as a valued business partner to banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies and nonprofit organizations. The American College faculty represents some of the financial services industry’s foremost thought leaders. For more information, visit www.theamericancollege.edu.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Only if we help shall all be saved

“Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved.” -- Dr. Jane Goodall

Stephen G. Post and Margaret May
In Chicago last month, at the Advisors in Philanthropy Conference (AiP), I met and talked with Stephen G. Post, author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping. Post is professor of preventive medicine and director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University. He is also president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love.

I wanted to meet Post to find out more about the institute and to seek out collaboration of my hypothesis that “eudaimonia” (the ancient Greek word for “well-being”) is the ultimate goal of women philanthropists who seek to practice “self-interest rightly understood” as defined by Alexis deTocqueville in his historic treatise “Democracy in America” (1835). The case being that the true meaning of philanthropy (again from the Greeks) is the “love of humankind.” And the premise being that when women let their values validate their valuables, they express those values through self-interest, not only for themselves and their families, but also for the greater good of the community. And in the process of carrying out the philanthropic deeds resulting from self-interest rightly understood, a more caring and compassionate community evolves at a time when our nation has lost its moral compass.

Listening to Dr. Post speak on his research added another dimension to the benefits of “self-interest rightly understood.” For according to Dr. Post, “when we show concern for others by acts such as volunteering, we improve our own health and well-being and embrace and give voice to our deeper identity and dignity as human beings.”

Could it be that every woman and every man can make a difference for a more harmonious and virtuous world, and in doing so not only experience “eudaimonia” but also help the world survive and thrive?

“Only if we help shall all be saved.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cultural Arts: Silence is Not Golden

In the 21st century, silence is not golden when it comes to the cultural arts heritage of America.

One could say, “Silence is death,” to the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Syracuse Symphony and The New York Opera, if what I read is correct in the April 29 edition of the Wall Street Journal. I picked up a copy while traveling this week between speaking in Chicago at the Advisors in Philanthropy (AiP) conference, and attending the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP) board meeting.

If this trend of silent concert halls and dark theater stages continues, we all would be wise to look in our communities to learn of the health and wealth of our beloved cultural organizations. And not only our cultural organizations, but the pulse of the community at large. For culture is the mirror of society and community. Culture is a benchmark for who we are and what we believe. As far back as the Roman Empire it has been documented, “As goes culture and arts, so goes the nation.”

Is this the decade we bottom out and turn the corner to an upward spiral of society’s ethical and moral values? Or will we remain in the valley of discontent? Yes, we live in the fourth season of this history cycle – passing through spring, summer and fall to our winter of discontent. Yes, the sun is setting, but a new Phoenix is rising and a new spirit in America is waiting in the wings.

Philanthropy can lead the way, but only with the collaboration of the non-profit and for-profit sectors acting with one voice for the greater good. Think abundance and it shall appear.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Who am I? Really!

Statistics tell us that a baby boomer will turn 55 years old every seven seconds for the next 20 years.

The psychologist Carl Jung notes that later in life, individuals have the opportunity to look deeper into themselves and recover renewed vitality and zest. Syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman cites Al Gore as the “poster child” for what author Marc Freedman calls an “Encore Career.”

In my book “Women Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation,” I write about the Three Principles of Abundance, one of which is to find ways to answer the question “Who Am I?” Finding part of the answer implies you have freedom and desire to get in touch with your human spirit and shift perceptions from the materialist age of conspicuous consumption to a meaningful age of conspicuous compassion. Demonstrating your passion for what is really important to you is the first step in finding abundance in your life.

Let’s face it; life at times is confusing and complicated. Having the ability to center thoughts and deeds on conspicuous compassion can simplify life and free the mind and the soul to be attentive to seeing the needs of others and being open to create solutions. It brings clarity of focus to what is important in the second half of our lives and it can lead to the reprioritization of values to complement a new inner vision of Who Am I? Really!

While it may not bring us the “whole enchilada,” listening to our human spirit will bring more meaning into life and the work we do with our time, talent and treasure resources.

Wait even seven seconds and you have let go of an opportune moment to find your answer.

Visit Margaret-May.com for more resources, news and information from Margaret May.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Would the government shut down if women were in charge?

I have been perplexed these days by the inability of our nation’s leaders to compromise for the greater good.

No, this is not a political article or a "He vs. She" commentary. You know the old saying, “He said that she said that he had...” That’s what the sound bytes remind me of when I listen to current political rhetoric. Sounds to me like all 'ego talking' and no 'heart listening.'

From my point of view, when it comes to playing King of the Mountain in Washington there is no doubt the testosterone levels are off the charts. What has happened to collaboration, to compassion, to reason? This is not "Monday Morning Quarterbacking." Some plain common sense would be nice right about now.

We are dealing with human lives, human fears and hopes, not a game of “King of the Mountain.” In times of crisis, partnership - not polarization - will bring back the spirit of “Self-interest rightly understood" that DeTocqueville in the 1840’s declared was America’s great virtue when he wrote Democracy in America.

It’s time to add the God-given talents of women - nurturing, holistic and healing - to preserve the American Dream.

Washington: Open your ears and heart, and close your mouth. Take a chance on philanthropy - real and honest philanthropy - the love of humankind.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Community and Social Capital, continued...

Intellectual and moral associations provide the venue for women to gather as the season arrives for them to lead the compassionate resolution of their consciousness revolution. Their ability to optimize the practical application of the “six degrees of separation” theory allows them to reach out and build the network necessary for collaboration and communication of their message to a chosen destination. It is both the independence and the interdependency of this vibrant and dense social capital that fosters “a radius of trust,” a term attributed to economist Lawrence Harrison, currently Senior Research Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. And as each social capital association extends its matrix through bridging social capital networks to embrace another bonded social capital association the radius of trust increases and the group extrapolates in number far more quickly and efficiently.

The need to weave this fabric of trust from local community to world community has never been greater. Time is running short to discover the true Age of Aquarius as our nation descends into its winter of discontent.

How does this all relate to women’s wealth and giving? Part of the answer comes by looking through the rear view mirror back into history, specifically to the Progressive Era (1880-1915), a time of “dramatic technological, economic, and social change [that] rendered obsolete a significant stock of social capital.” Here was a time when a coterie of women restocked America’s social capital mostly by using their time and persuasive talents. Many historians refer to women’s social reform activism during this era as the foundation of contemporary women’s philanthropic culture. Out of need to restock social capital, women used the opportunity structures available to them at the time to effect positive social change. Women, led by Nobel Peace prize recipient Jane Addams, suffragette Susan B. Anthony, journalist Ida Tarbell, educator Mary McLeod Bethune, and black millionaire businesswoman Madame C. J. Walker, emerged as major leaders for social reform. Their accomplishments permanently changed the society of their day and in doing so altered the future role of women in the civic, political, and business world forever.

A New York Times editorial titled “The Women of Thirty,” published on Sunday, August 29, 1920, claimed: “Women in fighting for the vote have shown a passion of earnestness, a persistence, and above all a command of both tactics and strategy… Hitherto the distinctively feminine instincts and aspirations have centered in winning the right of suffrage, but now that it is won, a vast united force has been let loose.”

This “force” succeeded in winning the first minimum wage and maximum hours for women workers, public health programs for pregnant women, improved educational opportunities for children and adults, the creation of the Childrens’ Bureau headed by Julia Lathrop in 1912 and the Women’s Bureau in the Federal Department of Labor during the Taft presidency.

Separated by two world wars, the civil rights and feminist movements, political and social turmoil around the world, and a widening disparity between rich and poor, the boom-generation prepare to pick up the gauntlet from their Progressive Era foremothers to work with the fervor of exuberance, enthusiasm, and idealism for a better world. While there is much similarity in the two eras between the state of society and the demise of social capital, this time around, however, boom-generation women are adding a new element to the equation: abundant financial capital and the freedom to direct its destination. Yet while being true to their foremothers, they still pause to reflect on Jane Addams’ sage advice before embarking on their contemporary romance with philanthropy.

“In this readjustment, in this reorganizing of the world, with its uncharted problems, with its tremendous romances – because it is a very romantic thing to see a world being made over before your eyes, and have a possible part in it – women’s organizations, to my mind, will be useful, very much in proportion as they keep their philanthropy more or less pragmatic, very much in proportion as they discover for life itself, what lessons we may best learn and best transmit.”

Construct your own TLC
Social capital is both bonding and bridging. Identify in your own community one way in which you are a part of each and how they connect to create a more diverse community:

A. Bonding social capital activity I do is _____________________________________

B. Bridging social capital network I am part of is _____________________________________

For more, read Women, Wealth and Giving or visit Margaret-May.com.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Community

When women choose to invest their energy and leadership capacity in virtuous philanthropy, they envision an energetic, diverse and vibrant community of which they are a part. This means the human community of relationships, not cold steel buildings.

In 1910, suffragist Rheta Childe Dorr proclaimed, “Women’s place is in the home, but home is not contained within the four walls of an individual home. Home is the Community.”

The modern thinking, planning, self-governing, educated woman came into a world that is losing faith in the commercial ideal, and is endeavoring to substitute in its place a social ideal. One hundred years later, community is still home. It is the sanctuary for women, sensitive to the nuances of eclectic and nontraditional ideas, to gather and surround themselves with the free flow of information and knowledge so desperately needed to transform problems into solutions.

Service to others not only heals and makes us happy; it creates a trusting, transparent environment in which to maximize our leadership capability. Empowerment gives us the leverage, the tools, to use our strengths collaboratively, which, in turn, builds the social, intellectual, spiritual, and financial capital of trust, leverage and capital (TLC). And it has never been so important to build TLC that sticks, that has teeth and can manifest itself in a virtuous legacy and the doing of good, practical, solid works that mend the world.

Social Capital (the “C” in TLC)
It is the synergy of TLC that is the foundation of community. And, for women, it is in community that there is an abundance of trust, the collective leverage of financial and intellectual capital, and an innovative network of social capital working to focus on ways to promulgate the love of humankind. As Dorr says, “home is the community.”

Community takes on an even greater significance as women use that newly identified zest we keep referring to as the pursuit of eudaimonia, the well-being of the soul and their true identity of self. In addition, at a defining moment in their personal search, there is a moment when women come to realize that when they address the needs for the greater good, they also find peace, joy, and unexpected self-satisfaction. For women, their community is a microcosmic view of the world in their own backyards; to effect change somewhere else, women first need to effect change within their own community.

“Where is the money going? I want it to be local,” says business owner Jody Bond. “It has to be helping the communities where my family and children live. I care about this community; I care about the people, because they also have shown they care for me.”

Some might challenge that self-interest is the source of the decision to first effect change in your own community; after all, self-interest is the self-absorbed behavior associated with the me generation. But such an assumption is unfair the generation whose self-interest ignited a nation in the 1960s to move forward with radical social, political, and educational reforms that today are part of the mainstream and main street.

For boomer women, expanding their sense of community is a continuation of defining a culture that is more inclusive of diverse social, economic, religious, and political ideology. Community then becomes a nurturing environment in which women can pursue their self-interest through values they consider paramount for the creation of a more compassionate and caring society. Indeed their self-interest arises from a strong idealistic moral center for the good of society as a whole. In hindsight, history may well prove that boomer women were the first generation to fully implement the principle of self-interest by their legacy of virtuous philanthropy and their ability to build consensus in their reshaping of society.

Construct your own TLC
What is your definition of community? How has that definition evolved or changed over the past 40 years?

For more, read Women, Wealth and Giving or visit Margaret-May.com.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Women working together to make a difference

Marie C. Wilson
Today’s woman is changing the traditional model of philanthropy.

Marie C. Wilson, founder and president of the White House Project says, “The boom generation is starting to realize it is leadership that you fund. We’ve been raising awareness in politics, business and media. You get them to see that if you want to make change in anybody’s leadership, you have to put money behind changes that show more women as leaders, more women in power and politics and more women in business. You have to make those kinds of connections.”

And while women are taking more risks in moving individual philanthropy, family philanthropy and community foundations in a positive direction, they are also finding ways to work together to have power to make more of the philanthropic decisions.

“We haven’t always loved and trusted each other but we’ve worked together because we wouldn’t have any power if we didn’t,” says Wilson.

In her work to get a critical mass of women into leadership, she sees boom-generation women beginning to realize that more grassroots women in leadership across the country really “lifts all boats.”

For more, read Women, Wealth and Giving or visit Margaret-May.com.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

7 Covenants of Virtuous Philanthropy

Virtue is coming back into vogue.

The Baby Boomers suspended their dreams in the 1960s during the consciousness revolution. Now, 40 years later, they have the time and the money to live their dreams and start what they finished, creating a more idealistic and egalitarian world.

Today, I share with you the 7 Covenants of Virtuous Philanthropy.

Synergy among the seven covenants creates the full spectrum of women’s philanthropic footprint.

A voluntary philanthropist is one who, empowered by the Three Principles of Abundance (Feb. 4, 2011 blog), lives a life harmonious with the seven covenants in reasonable and caring ways appropriate to her hopes, dreams and desires for the greater good of all humanity.

1. Courage for a virtuous philanthropist is the ability to sustain the steadfast pursuit on one’s convictions and beliefs in the face of skepticism or discouragement.

2. Justice for a virtuous philanthropist is the ability to respect and treat other people as moral equals, particularly when there is inequity of power or opportunity.

3. Prudence for a virtuous philanthropist is the ability to judge wisely and objectively in all matters pertaining to time, talent and treasure.

4. Temperance for a virtuous philanthropist is the ability to exhibit a discipline in all matters so as to avoid extreme or harmful thought or action.

5. Faith for a virtuous philanthropist is the ability to trust in the expectation of right and proper being accomplished without prior proof required.

6. Hope for a virtuous philanthropist is the ability to accept risk with reasonable optimism for good to be achievable.

7. Love for a virtuous philanthropist is the ability to act beneficently and rejoice in the happiness of others.
© 2011 Margaret May. All rights reserved.

By living the 7 Covenants of Virtuous Philanthropy in everyday life, we are becoming true to ourselves - self-interest rightly understood - and setting an example for others.

Visit Margaret-May.com and click on "Resources" to view additional documents, articles and links.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Living the Three Principles of Abundance

Today, I'd like to share 10 steps that will bring abundance and happiness to your life - and make the most of your gifts of time, talent and treasure.

These steps will help you live the three principles of abundance:
1. Every woman has a legacy
2. Every woman is a philanthropist
3. Every woman makes a difference

10 Steps
1. Spend time alone and listen to the songs in your heart.

2. Acknowledge your ability and freedom to be a voluntary philanthropist by moving out of your giving comfort zone by making a commitment to a "stretch" gift.

3. Create a mental mantra of your vision for a better world to remind you of your empowerment to make a difference.

4. Talk to family and friends about your philanthropic goals; share with them your mission statement and help them craft one of their own.

5. Be prepared to face some disappointment in order to more abundantly reap the rewards of your risk to make a difference.

6. Recognize fear and uncertainty as healthy emotions that when properly channeled will build your confidence in making philanthropic decisions.

7. Make a resolution to live your mission statement each day by word, thought and deed.

8. Give yourself permission to enjoy the journey and be open to listen with your heart to the stories that surround you as you travel.

9. Keep a journal.

10. Remember that you can never do a kindness too soon or too often.

© 2011 Margaret May. All rights reserved.

Visit Margaret-May.com and click on "Resources" to view additional documents, articles and links.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kitchen table values carry us through life's adversity

Have you noticed that when adversity strikes in our life, we tend to reflect inward to find the strength and courage to carry on. We seem to know that deep inside our spirit is a reserve of moral fortitude waiting to rekindle our energy for creative solutions to move us forward to greater harmony and peace in our lives.

For many of us, including myself, that moral fortitude comes from the values that we learned in childhood. My grandmother's kitchen was full of love, good music and good food, nourishment for both the body and soul. My grandmother loved to listen to classical music on the radio, especially the Saturday afternoon Texaco Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. She would sit me on her lap and sing along with the familiar Puccini, Mozart, and Verdi arias. Music brought harmony into her life and music washed away the troubles of the day, family and financial.

On my 10th birthday, my grandmother gave me the gift of music lessons. I got to choose a musical instrument and take weekly lessons in the Albany, NY elementary school music program. I chose to take flute lessons. Classical music was in my heart, thanks to those kitchen table experiences at my grandmother's house. Classical music and flute playing became part of my core values for life.

Throughout my high school years I was blessed by having a caring band instructor, Luke Matthews, who encouraged my musical ability and helped me settle on a career in music. I was fortunate to receive a work scholarship to Boston University School of Music. I graduated and taught music in a small New England town for one year, but like most young women of my generation, my life and career took other paths. I packed away my Haynes flute, bought in 1961 by my folks with a loan on Dad's insurance policy, and went on with life in nonprofit management and fundraising.

Twenty years later I moved to Florida with my old flute and new husband. Several years later during the Thanksgiving holiday season, Dad, who had been quite ill for many years died, and I found myself getting a divorce. But I still owned my flute. Over the years, I would take it out of the case when I felt discouraged and I would play my favorite music to console my soul. Memories of my grandmother's kitchen and her joy of music made my heart sing.

I now live in a town with a pretty good-size community band, so a few years ago I sent my 40-year-old Haynes flute back to Boston for an overhaul to remove the dents and replace the pads. When I got it back, I practiced a bit more and went down to the community center and auditioned for a seat. I got in. When I am not traveling for work, you will find me on a Monday night at band rehearsal, forgetting all the troubles of the day and soothing my soul playing a Souza march or a Broadway musical overture.

Recently, I went through more of life's adversities, including the death of my Mom. I found myself once again lamenting and releasing my grief with my music. I realized that my childhood love for harmony, beauty and classical music in my life were values I wanted to pass on to future generations. This was part of my legacy. I wanted other young women to know and experience how the power of music can help get a person through adversity, soften the loss of loved ones, brighten changing economic situations and life-altering situations.

To do this, I revised my will and established a scholarship at Boston University, my alma mater, for a female flute student. I realized by getting in touch with my values and becoming more strategic in my estate planning, I could pass on my legacy of values as well as valuables. I could help a musical student start on her musical journey, just as a work scholarship had started me on mine. I could pay it forward.

So no matter if it's mini-money or mega bucks, funding a flute scholarship of leading a cause to stop global warming, we all can make a difference, we all have a legacy, we all can do our part for a more just, harmonious and compassionate world.

In my book, Women Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation, I write about the values pyramid, and how values instilled in childhood, become tested and distilled in our lifetime so that when we reach midlife we find the essence of these values guide and direct our decisions in times of adversity. Yes, our childhood kitchen table values have come full circle to help us get in touch with what is really important in how we live our life and how we leave our legacy.

Take a moment to reflect on your childhood memories and their impact on who you are and what you do today and tomorrow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Are you making a difference?

Q: How do you know if you are making a difference?

A: If you are living your legacy as a voluntary philanthropist, then you are making a difference.

It’s only human to question and want to see results, but by what standards should we measure? Believe in your values; lead by example; listen to your heart. You know the world would be less but for the kindness of your actions, your thoughts and your love.

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean,” Mother Teresa said. “But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

“Empowerment Cycle”

For many, empowerment is not simple, but it is intuitive. To bring clarity to the process, here are four distinct steps that create a cycle that helps design, optimize, and empower your life as a torchbearer for virtuous philanthropy. Here are the four steps of the “Empowerment Cycle.”

1. Affirm and Discover Your Core Values

      A. How did your parents and grandparents influence you?

      B. List three angels or heroes in childhood that inspired you.

      C. Identify a difficult life experience – describe how values shaped your experience.


2. Align to Causes - “To Thine Own Self Be True.” Engage the REAL you:

     A. What would make your community a better place?

     B. What do you appreciate most about the opportunity to support one of the causes you now participate in?


3. Commit to the three Ts: time, talent and treasure. Hold Yourself Accountable.

     A. Review current strategies. For example: how to say yes or no.

     B. How do you maximize or leverage your giving?

     C. What legal documents do you have in place?


4. Celebrate: Live a Purposeful Life

     A. Confidence replaces doubt.

     B. Choice replaces chance.

     C. With less effort, more gets done.

     D. You have the freedom to believe in the beauty of your dreams.

     E. Speak your authentic voice and paint a vivid picture of what you believe, what your passion is, what you do about it, and how you do it.

     F. List the following: ______________ is my purpose, _____________ is my passion, ______________ are my values.

Connect your passion with purpose. Be REAL in your philanthropy and don’t wait a single moment before starting to improve the world through your generous gifts of time, talent and treasure.