philanthropy

Could You Use Your Wealth to Change the World?

I mentioned a while back some of the things I would hate about being filthy rich. Some of our readers felt that I was taking too flippant a view of rich people and perhaps they were right.

With this in mind, I decided to write a post about how being extremely rich could be a good thing. After all, if money was no object then you could use your wealth to change the world for the better. For instance, you could set up a charity foundation. Some of the richest philanthropists in history have helped to make the world a better place by doing exactly this.

Then I thought to myself, hold on a second. It’s all very well talking about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Michael Jackson’s Heal the World Foundation but how relevant is that to most of us? Sure, if I ever have a few billion in my bank you can bet that I will set up a foundation and give away plenty of cash.

However, what if we turn the subject around and consider how we could use our current wealth to help improve the world? We might not be as rich as Bill Gates is or Michael Jackson was but many of us are still in a position to do a little bit to help out others who are a lot worse off.

Support Your Favorite Charities

Sometimes the problems in the world seem too big for us to even start to solve them. I get depressed watching the news some nights and seeing wars, disease, famine and all sorts of other problems appear on the screen. Yet there is something we can do to help. By choosing to support a charity we trust we can make sure that we do a little bit to improve the world. If you don’t think you can afford to do this then what about cutting out one treat from your month and donating the money you have saved?

Think About Lending to People Around the World

I only recently discovered that sites like Kiva, Zidisha and United Prosperity even exist. If you haven’t come across them before then it is a brilliant idea. Simply put, someone who needs a small loan seeks crowdfunding from people over the internet. In the case of Kiva, you lend them $25 and when it gets repaid you can then lend it to someone else. A quick look at the site will show you how even a relatively small amount of cash like $1000 can really make a difference to someone’s life. For example, there are lots of people in Latin America, Asia and Africa who need a small loan to stock their shop or to start up a business to make some money. It is kind of heart-breaking to read some of the stories and see how desperate some people are for the chance to make their business work. You will get a great feeling from helping them out and will help them try to make a success of their lives.

So, What’s In It for Me?

If you are going to donate or lend money then there has to be something in it for you. That might sound heartless but it is reasonable to suggest that if you get a benefit from it then you are more likely to keep on doing it. So how about looking at the people you help out and realizing how lucky you are? I might not be filthy rich but once I had read about those people desperately in need of small loans I felt as though my financial situation was actually a lot better than I had previously imagined and felt grateful for what I have.

In what other ways can we use our wealth to change the world?

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8 Responses to Could You Use Your Wealth to Change the World?

  1. I think you missed a big “what’s in it for me.” Charitable donations are tax deductible! So you get the feel good and you get to give without actually giving the full amount (net of the tax savings).

    Jay

  2. kammi says:

    Micro loans are great; a girl from my country who attained some success in the US used it to set up a micro loan operation for struggling people in the Arts with business ideas in my country of birth.
    I think that I would use it to fund health care and education; for example, in my country of birth, if you sit the exam at the end of high school and you score first place, you can attend any University in the world you want to attend (the government will pay for it). I think the whole ‘teach a man to fish’ mentality is very important; you’re not providing just money, but an opportunity for someone with a plan to enact it and learn from it, and use it as a stepping stone, the way you wished someone would have provided mentorship to you when you were starting out. Also, I’d like to help the elderly; I read once that the measure of a country is by how you help the least in that society. I think that here in the US, the elderly are not only neglected, but often scammed. I’ve seen some elderly people living in poverty and it breaks my heart; I don’t have to put them up in a mansion but at least be able to live with some integrity and human dignity and have a place to go to and people who care about them. That’s my opinion :) Oh, and transportation. Here in my part of California there is elitism in transportation; the poor don’t have access to cars, and the transportation system is abysmal. It’s embarrassing. There are countries in other parts of the world where even the poorest have access to transportation. I think that the current transportation system for the poor where I live is equal to some of the fourth world countries I’ve visited where you had to wait three hours for bush taxis and ride with goats :(

    • Robert Bell says:

      Thanks for the comments Cammi. I see that it’s something you care about a lot. Let’s hope that more and more people take the same sort of attitude

  3. I’m reminding of the quote “to whom much is given, much is expected”. I think if you’re smart enough and make enough money to the point where it’s not an object to you and you’re filthy rich, you’re expected to do some good for the world.

  4. Definitely, I could use my wealth to change the world. For me, I would support a cancer foundation, in that way, I can help people who have a cancer to live longer because they would have their medicines.

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