Transformation Through Virtous Philanthropy

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

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011


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

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

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 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 and click on "Resources" to view additional documents, articles and links.