All I want for Christmas…

The philanthropy silly season is upon us.   You know what I mean — the endless annual appeals, the bell ringers, the add a dollar to your grocery bill, the buy a paper candy cane to show your support for X, Y and Z.   Each year, deciding how to give charitably becomes more difficult.   How do you decide among the ongoing needs (feeding the hungry) with the immediate needs of the victims of catastrophes – be they natural or man-made.    Last year it was the devastation of SuperStorm Sandy.   This year it is the typhoons and the tornadoes.   Our tendency is, of course, to give a dollar here, a dollar there, a donation here, a check there, a text for $10 dollars here, until we realize that while these small donations can add up — it is hard to see how this kind of giving helps in the long-term to strengthen our likelihood of withstanding devastating events.   Are we helping institutions, organizations, and people begin to think about how we cope with adversity regardless of its source?      JD Rockefeller – a pioneer of strategic giving  invested in understanding the root causes (so not just feeding the hungry but understanding why there is hunger and how to eradicate it).    So perhaps we need to think about how we support the organizations that do more than respond to tragic events but work to alleviate tragic events.   Of course Rockefeller also wrote that organized strategic philanthropic giving did not absolve one of personal charitable giving.   We still must respond to the crises.   But we should also dig deep into our pockets and invest in solutions.