Recent Comments


    Philanthropy 2.0 in 2022

    By Derek Barnes–

    “Living consciously involves being genuine; it involves listening and responding to others honestly and openly; it involves being in the moment.” —Sidney Poitier

    Almost two years ago, I began writing this column exploring what Philanthropy is and what it is not. By nature, I’m compelled to use the Socratic method to help stimulate argumentative dialogue and critical thinking, often challenging my presuppositions—sometimes at significant personal cost, but I learn. The method can also disrupt thinking, produce discomfort, and challenge authority. We know what happened to poor Socrates, but I digress.

    What is Philanthropy? How is it different from charity? What does Philanthropy solve, and how effective is it? These were some of my early questions. It didn’t take long to travel down a rabbit hole of my creation. However, these inquiries did change my views and challenge me to understand the power of this tool a bit more. Hopefully, I brought a few readers along on my journey to inspire a new way of thinking about Philanthropy.

    While both are important, distinguishing Philanthropy (translation: “love of humankind”) from charity or charitable giving was part of this journey. The framework of Philanthropy has such broad and dynamic applications with longer-term impact. Anyone can engage in it at any level if there’s meaningful sacrifice (something of significant value you’re personally giving or giving up), and it is done without the expectation of receiving anything in return. In other words, philanthropic intentions shouldn’t be about deriving donor material or monetary benefit or quid quo pro. The mechanism can also be a great equalizer to rampant forms of capitalism if the intent mentioned above is understood and upheld.

    As we think about our philanthropic goals for 2022, and we should all be doing that now, let’s consider several elements to add a new dimension as everyday philanthropists. We’ll call this Philanthropy 2.0. The overarching goal is to catapult Philanthropy 2.0 into the mainstream and embed it into a new mindset for better problem analysis and more innovative investments in people and communities to drive greater impact.

    As an individual, household, group, nonprofit organization, or company, the four elements to add to the framework in support of your philanthropic goals are empathy, compassion, engagement, and collaboration. After exploring and deciding how to give back this year, ask yourself these questions: Is this endeavor coming from a place of empathy to more fully understand the right problem we hope to solve? Is what we say and how we act generating compassion towards those most impacted by our words and work? Are we kind? What might we need to do or change to courageously and consistently be engaged in the work? Finally, can we form new relationships and partnerships to produce the desired outcome(s)?

    We’re opening new chapters in 2022, and there are extraordinary things we’ve discovered about ourselves since 2020. We fight for truth and what’s right. We adapt and are resilient when it matters. We help each other in times of great need. From social justice to economic disparity, there are profound lessons we’ve learned about who we are as humans. There is light at the end of this two-year-long tunnel, but everyone has more work to do.

    The late Desmond Tutu also leaves us this powerful reminder: “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

    Philanthropy 2.0 can empower us to do so many extraordinary things, and we must remember the unique gifts each of us can tap into—beyond just monetary contributions. Seeing value and the humanity in everyone generates equity. Sharing our stories authentically and with dignity is powerful. Being in action together is our strength. Partnering in new ways to share resources has enormous benefits and long-term impact. Empathy, compassion, engagement, and collaboration are values to embed and propagate in all that we do. They should be part of a winning formula that drives our philanthropic goals in the year ahead.

    Derek Barnes is the CEO of the East Bay Rental Housing Association ( ). He currently serves on the boards of Horizons Foundation and Homebridge CA. Follow him on Twitter @DerekBarnesSF or on Instagram at DerekBarnes.SF

    Published on January 13, 2022