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We had a super morning with the Campbellsport class in Wisconsin! Our founder, Ryan was able to Skype in with the class, share his story about how Main Street Philanthropy got started, the importance of giving and how it can change those who give, as well as a few tidbits about making important decisions in life. Students asked questions about the structure of MSP and what keeps him motivated to keep working on it.
“My secret mission,” said Ryan, “is to be able to show mathematically that within a few years, our MSP students and those we have impacted will be on a larger giving-growth trajectory through our Main Street giving than the billionaires that have signed the giving pledge.” He described the math as not too complicated, but important as we illustrate the impact that anyone can make in improving our communities and the world. Good luck with that!
We’re excited to watch and read as these students continue their philanthropic adventure, learning about their passions, their communities, and making a difference.
Thank you Team Silbernagel, our fearless Ambassadors, and Ms. Danielle Dreher, the sponsoring teacher at Campbellsport High school – none of this works without your support and efforts!
There are so many more wonderful thoughts and quotes that could be shared from this class! Once again, I’m amazed by the growth and thoughtful nature of this next generation of philanthropists. Please join us in congratulating them and encouraging them to continue on their journey of generosity!
As you all know by now, as students go through Main Street Philanthropy, they are encouraged to blog each week about their experience – what they’re learning, the impact the course is having, etc. The number of incredible insights is way beyond our ability to share each and every one, but here and there we extract and share them.
This particular blog entry was written by a student from our MSP class in New Jersey. Read it, enjoy it, and if you feel so inclined, share your thoughts, or even consider supporting other students’ ability to participate in Main Street Philanthropy!
Thank you Ilina for your insight, your wisdom, and participation in Main Street Philanthropy! It’s young adults like you that give us the confidence that there is hope for our future! There are capable minds to lead us now and in the future. Keep up the great work!
In a moving celebration and ceremony last week, over 50 new graduates of The Main Street Philanthropy Academy from Clairemont High School’s Academy of Business in San Diego were awarded their certificates, recognizing them for completing the 10-week course in giving with purpose and passion!
The day consisted of several speeches from students, over $4,000 given to charities, incredible words of encouragement, and an abundance of new found hope and confidence in our youth, our future leaders.
It touches my heart to see the outpouring of care and passion in this room…. You kids are a step ahead of so many people in the world, since you now know the value of caring and sharing. - John Loomer of the Homeless Veterans Services
Several of the students shared their personal stories of why they selected specific causes, how events had impacted their lives, and what it meant to them to be able to support an organization that meant so much to them.
In more than one occasion, tears streamed down faces as we all experienced a moment of what it means to give. We got a glimpse of the joy one experiences from making an impact in someone else’s life. We felt the understanding that giving truly does affect the hearts and minds of those who give, perhaps more so than those who receive.
We’re so proud of our new graduates and look forward to watching them continue to make a difference in their communities and in the world!
MSP has really changed me. A few weeks ago, I never thought of contributing to a charity. Now I’m a certified PHILANTHROPIST!!!! I’m a junior in high school and already have a semi-professional title. The feeling of knowing I have accomplished something this big, is just mind blowing to me. I already know more about taxes than most adults. So basically this program is giving me the opportunity to tackle life and quick. – Khalid
I couldn’t even say the word philanthropy or know how to spell it until Ryan came in and told us about it. He gave us Make A Difference cards to see different causes that needed help. He told us to choose our top three cards and I chose Family Services, Animal Care and Environmental Disaster. Choosing the MAD cards was a new experience and taught me that there are a lot of problems in the world. I hope to gain the experience of being the one person to make a difference in others’ lives. - Ronson
Continued over weeks and weeks of having to listen to an MSP Ambassador, Ryan Ponsford…
We had to make calls to strangers to see if they were interested in what we were doing. What I found from calling organizations is that some of them seemed ecstatic to meet you and talk to you while others seemed to be having a bad day. –Diana
Students presented their findings, who they selected, and what they learned….
We piled into a bus, and drove around San Diego, visiting organizations, handing out checks!
My Experience in discovering my purpose, vision, and mission has been eye opening to say the least. Starting this MSP project has made me realize that philanthropy is not just signing a check for some random charity (well, for some “Philanthropists” it is) but there is a lot of research and care that goes into choosing the right organization making sure your dollar goes a long way. – Arthur
Just what is philanthropy?
What comes to mind when you hear the word “philanthropy?” Money? Names on buildings? Tax and legal strategies for the wealthy? For most of us, philanthropy is an ivy-league term that connotes something reserved for the Park Avenue crowd, not the majority of us living a few blocks off Main Street. However, the reality is that philanthropy has nothing to do with money or wealth. Nothing to do with writing large checks. And what’s more? Each of us and our families can benefit from a little taste of philanthropic activity. For now, let’s just look at some of the origin of the concept…
Starting with just the word “philanthropy,” it comes from the Greek words, “philein” and “anthropos.” For the Greek scholars out there, you’ll know that these two words basically translate to “love for humankind.” The widely accepted theory for the origin of the word, is that it comes from the ancient Greek playwright, Aeschylus, in depicting the Titan Prometheus’ “philanthropos tropos,” or “humanity-loving character.” If you recall, Greek mythology tells of Zeus’ decision to destroy humans as they had no knowledge, skills, or culture of any sort. Prometheus, apparently being a humanity-loving gent, decided to give them two empowering gifts – fire and optimism (or blind hope). With fire, humans could be optimistic, and with optimism, they would use the fire for the benefit of their race. From there was born philanthropia, or loving what it is to be human. (Oddly, the main thing I remember from my studies of Greek mythology, was that Prometheus was punished by being chained to a rock where vultures would come every day and eat out his liver. Because he was a Titan, it would grow back that night, and he’d endure the same the next day. Nice…)
As you’ll notice, there wasn’t a mention of “giving money away,” “tax strategies for the rich,” a suggestion of “your name on a building;” or anything of the sort. Philanthropy in its root form is doing well for others because you genuinely care. It’s making an effort for the well-being of the human race. This could be about supporting a charitable organization that is doing good things, it could be about giving a Cliff Bar to someone on the street, or it could be merely holding open the door for someone on the way into a building. So, the bottom line here is that we can all be philanthropists.
However, there is more to the message. There’s more because you ought to understand both why and how you should become philanthropic.
I’ll jump out on a limb here and make the assumption that most of us have given something to someone in our lives. I’ll also make the bold suggestion that you may have even enjoyed it. Well, as you might guess, there have been studies done linking giving and generosity to good health – mental, emotional, and spiritual. In a future article, I’ll share those with you; the outcomes are telling.
So, giving is good for you; most of us know that already. Here’s the real question that I get from individuals, couples, and families. How do I best give? More than ever, folks are becoming more concerned with maximizing the actual impact of their gifts. Our dollars are finite. If we want to truly participate in addressing a societal problem, where are our dollars best allocated? Which organizations will be the best stewards of our funds? How do we maximize the impact of giving for our family?
In my mind there are two answers to these questions. One addresses increasing the odds that you are choosing to fund organizations that have the highest likelihood of solving the core problem you wish to solve. To some extent, this is an investment equation. How will you get the maximum return on investment, when return is quantified by success in solving a social problem? The other is, how might you and your family, company, or group go through the process of selecting an organization so as to maximize the benefits to your family? This second question is the one that I find more valuable and most often missed. Just another lesson we tackle at Main Street Philanthropy; stay tuned to learn more! In the meantime, do something nice for someone; see if it improves your day!
Getting the Word Out!
I’m thrilled to share that this week, Main Street Philanthropy Founders, Scott Farnsworth and Ryan Ponsford participated on a national teleconference, hosted by the Purposeful Planning Institute, moderated by well known advisor, attorney, author, and thought leader, John A Warnick!
John A. Warnick (a thought leader in the space of philanthropy and purposeful planning) saw a little bit of what we’ve been working on last November when he attended the SunBridge Advanced Legacy Builder Retreat. As a result he invited Scott and Ryan to share some of their innovations on a Purposeful Planning Collaborative broadcast. He also facilitated their landing a speaking spot at the annual conference of the International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy in Las Vegas on April 25th! (Thanks John!)
From the “Philanthropic Slush Fund” to