If you talk to anyone in the community about philanthropy, you’ll likely find a strong sense of concern or wariness. The truth is that the world of philanthropy is full of myths and misconceptions. These myths have wormed their way into the collective consciousness of society, actively harming the missions nonprofit organizations have.
There is a myriad of reasons why these myths gained traction. We could spend all day analyzing them. Instead, let us discuss and then break down the most commonly held myths and misconceptions regarding philanthropy.
Myth #1: Small Gifts Don’t Matter
It isn’t uncommon to hear somebody lamenting the fact that small gifts don’t make a difference to charities. However, this is a false belief. The truth is that every donation matters, no matter how large or small. Even the littlest donation makes a difference, as it combines with dozens of other smaller gifts to become something more.
Myth #2: Philanthropy is Transactional
This myth is more of a misconception, as people confuse giving or volunteering with true philanthropy. For example, buying Girl Scout cookies from a troop does make a difference – to that troop. But this falls under giving or charity, not philanthropy. Furthermore, one is getting something in return, making the process transactional.
Philanthropy is the attempt to make lasting changes through donations and time investment. An example would be the difference between donating to the Red Cross following a disaster (charity) and working to change disaster response laws (philanthropy).
Myth #3: Millennials (and All Younger Generations) Don’t Donate
As always, there is this tendency to assume that younger generations are doing something wrong – simply because they do something differently. It may appear, at a glance, that millennials aren’t donating as much as their elders, but there are three important facts to note about this.
First, most millennials aren’t as financially stable as previous generations had been at their age. This means they have less money to be philanthropic with. Second, millennials often focus on supporting causes – not specific organizations. As such, their funds tend to shift around, following their concerns. Third, millennials don’t have as much money to work with, so they’ve found more creative ways to make a difference, such as donating their time.
Myth #4: Large Organizations Already Have Massive Resources
Commonly, when people hear about larger organizations (such as UNICEF or the Red Cross), they assume that because they have such a solid reach, they have all the necessary resources. As a result, some people feel less inclined to support these organizations. This is false. Large organizations may be more in the public eye, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re getting the funding they need.