Generosity in other words: examples 1 and 2

Over at Philanthropy 2173, blogger and self-proclaimed “philanthropy wonk” Lucy Bernholz has rolled out her top-ten list of buzzwords for 2011.  She’s up to 9, with the 10th coming in the December 27 issue of Chronicle of Philanthropy. So far, her best of the buzz list includes :  social impact bond; collective impact; storytelling; charitable tax reform; infographics; evidence-based; shapeshifting; disruption; and, simplify.

Bernholz and her list-making got me thinking about interesting phrases and/or concepts that I’m noticing with increased frequency in the reading I do. I don’t have 10 examples ready to go — hey, I’m just getting started on this list-building thing — but here are a couple of initial picks as we head into 2012.

Generosity in other words

  1. Micro-philanthropy efforts: These are initiatives designed to encourage first-time givers to dip a toe into the generosity waters with a small gift. As described by a writer for the Nonprofit Newswire, “rather than advocating for consolidated investment in what’s scalable and perhaps even best practice, these newest micro-philanthropy efforts stress speed of transaction and seem aimed at building the giving habit itself as an outcome.”
  1. Secular tithing: Another nifty phrase from the Nonprofit Newswire article cited above, this one refers to efforts by non-religious philanthropy evangelists (e.g. Bolder Giving and NewTithing Group)  to win converts to the joy of regular and systematic giving. Consider the following from Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World:

Faith-based or not, there’s something powerful in the practice of tithing, allowing you to be very measured about your giving. Even if you don’t follow a faith, you can ‘tithe to humanity,’ ‘tithe to parentless children,’ or ‘tithe to the environment’ and employ the same principles. . . It’s a way of taking stock and being more consistent — at least by amount — in the way you give.

Whether using new words or old, I’m delighted when people speak about generosity. In my opinion, the more talk the better if, because of that talk, more folks put their money where their mouths are. I’ve said it before and I’m happy to say it again — generous matters.

Add your words/phrases to the list: What new ways of talking about generosity have caught your attention? Does anything bother you about the new ways of talking about giving and asking?


  1. Kevin King says:

    Thanks for the thoughts. I am fascinated by what I am reading in the paper lately of anonymous donors going into KMart and donating to folks who have toys and baby clothes on Layaway Plans. Now that is not letting the “left hand know what the right hand is doing” charity! or as you write here- a “Micro-philanthropy effort”

    • Thanks, Kevin, for the weighing in with a great example of micro-philanthropy in action. I love how the media has picked up on the “lay-away givers,” encouraging others to go and do likewise.

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