I’ve been ‘halfway done’ with the Steve Jobs biography for 4 weeks – partly because it documents every waking hour of his life, and partly because he’s coming across as a self-centered jerk. It was easy to put down. I’m sure Gates has had his moments too, but the extent and impact of his philanthropy is absolutely awe-inspiring. No, none of us have the amount of money or network that comes with such wealth, but there are giving lessons we all can learn from Professor Gates.
Gates has committed to giving at least half of his net worth during his lifetime. That may be a stretch for you, but instead, grow your philanthropy budget. It’s not as hard as you think. Learn to live with less and share more. It’s thriftiness meets kindergarten, try it.
2. Engage your network
Gates has successfully challenged his rich friends to make a similar commitment. Similarly, challenge your friends to give more, match what you do, run a 5k together, join an event committee together, give up your own birthday (and everyone’s) for charity, put your volunteer roles on your LinkedIn page and more. You’ll give more, have more fun and create stronger relationships.
3. Fix a problem from both ends … and in the middle
In addressing malaria, Gates gives to research, makes distribution easier and invested to dramatically reduce the cost of the vaccine (by 99%). Pick your issue and find 3 ways to comprehensively approach it. Increase your financial commitment to invest in each and/or find two friends, determine your strategy and attack. Want to help the local zoo? Donate to bring a new exhibit, buy gift memberships and host your kid’s (or your own) birthday party there to expose more people to what you love. Want to help the homeless? For one week buy an extra to-go meal each time you eat out downtown and hand it to someone on the street, donate stuff to a shelter (but do it right) and volunteer to tutor homeless children (prevention).
I leave you with this beautiful infographic on Gates and giving from Frugal Dad.