Social Venture Partner Conference Notes

I’m back from the Social Venture Partners Conference where I had a great time. I think the vibe at the conference was pretty much summed up by the tee shirts that were for sale, which read: “Philanthropy is Hot!” (yes, the letters had flames around the edges).

I have more I want to write about then I have time for today, but I want to make a point about where I think philanthropy is going. There’s so much talk about the best way to engage in philanthropy. I think about and write about the “best” way to give all the time. But here’s the thing. At the SVP Conference, you had a large group of people coming together who all believe one thing: That there are better and worse ways to practice philanthropy.

That won’t sound like that radical of a statement to most of the readers of this blog. But for most Americans giving is just something they just do. They don’t particularly think about philanthropy as something that can be done in ways that are better or worse. SVP members on the other hand give with “intent”. They practice philanthropy with an internal belief, that how, why and where they give are something that should be given significant consideration.

We hear so much about the “new donor”. About people who are engaging in philanthropy in new ways. But if we step back from the noise about microfinance, strategic philanthropy, mission related investing, tactical philanthropy, online giving and citizen philanthropy, I think a core theme emerges as the true signal. At the end of the day, Americans are changing their relationship with philanthropy. They are becoming “intentional donors”. So that’s my new phrase for the month. “Intentional philanthropy” captures for me the true revolutionizing principal of the Second Great Wave of Philanthropy.

Have you ever stopped and really thought about something that you normally do on auto pilot? Have you ever paid attention to your breathing? Or really listened to a song on the radio instead of it just being background noise? Once you begin to act intentionally, you realize that while the auto-pilot approach you used to use might have served you OK, living intentionally can bring a whole new world into view for you.

So go forth and give intentionally. Remember, “philanthropy is hot”!