Six Pillars of Purposeful Philanthropy

In March 2010 my friend Geoff Davis, co-founder and former CEO of Unitus, asked me how I thought Purposeful Planning would influence the world of philanthropy. I reflected for several hours late that night and what emerged is what I’ve called the Five Pillars of Purposeful Philanthropy.

Recently, I shared those pillars with some of my collaborators within the LinkedIn world. What resulted was a flood of appreciation and powerful suggestions on expanding the universality and impact of the pillars. Over the last couple of days I’ve contemplated what I’ve learned from those who reached out to me, as well as from my client experiences over the last three years, and this has led to deepening the Pillars as well as shifting my vision of their purpose.

The pillars are not intended to replace but rather guide and support the processes, strategies, tactics, meetings and effort which an individual or family generates through their philanthropic journey. The pillars are the “Being” which manifests itself in the “Doing: of giving and service. Here are the Six Pillars of Purposeful Philanthropy. Please let me know if you feel there is still something missing from this list.

1. VISION: Until I know myself, the blinders of the past obscure the pathways to significance. To clearly see the needs of others as well our opportunities to make the world a better place, I must first know myself. To know who I am, I must first ask who am I…..and then who am I not to be.

2. ABUNDANCE AND GRATITUDE: We give and share with love so that gratitude can unlock the fullness of life. We trust in the paradox of the law of abundance — by sharing and giving our lives are made richer. There are two keys to the treasure chest of generosity. With one key we impart freely of both material resources and spiritual plenty. With the other we gratefully accept all that comes back.

3. PURPOSE AND FOCUS: Vision and purpose are keys to our philanthropic journey–a journey which takes us from mere givers of money to impactful and purposeful philanthropists. We focus our strategies and leverage our efforts to make our philanthropic vision real and congruent with our family’s shared purpose(s).

4. COMPASSION: We enhance and empower our fellowmen through purposeful gifts. We resist any impulse which would demean or create dependency. Image for The Pillars of Purposeful Family Philanthropy

5. LEGACY: As stewards of our family’s wealth, we gratefully acknowledge all we have received from the prior generations as well as the wealth we are “borrowing” from the future generations of our family. We repay both debts through service and example. We trust this shared philanthropic journey will create compassion, resiliency and purposeful self-sufficiency in the next generations of our family.

6. COMMITMENT AND PASSION: Our philanthropic passion for the causes we embrace creates the enthusiasm and devotion which will ultimately change lives and make the world a better place. We marvel at the interconnectedness of mankind and the interrelatedness of all cultures and communities. There can be no peace and joy for us until we see peace and joy for you too.


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