What’s Wrong With Philanthropy?
Kevin Delaney

Thinking Better About Philanthropy

A Q&A with Kevin Delaney and Biz Stone on The Fast Pace of Tech: Doing Good, Driving Change

I can’t speak to that, because I didn’t read his thing, but I do generally think people think about and do philanthropy wrong. Their hearts are in the right place, but what people tend to think they should do is wait until they’re comfortable, and they’ve got their lives in order, and then write a check for something. But I really think that there’s a compound impact to altruism and philanthropy. The earlier you get started at any level, the more impact you’re going to have over the course of your life.

So if you get started as a teenager, volunteering, giving $5 or $10, by the time you’re 40, you will have done so much more than you could do by writing a check for $25,000. By the way, no one ever really feels like they’re comfortable enough to give away a whole bunch of money. They’re always like, “Well, maybe next year.” I think the key is to get started really early with it.

I’m a huge fan of philanthropy, because I think being selfless is actually selfish. You get way more out of it than you put into it. You feel so great about what you’ve done. If you’re a college student looking for a job, and you’re volunteering, when they ask you what you’re doing right now, instead of saying you’re looking for a job, you can say, “Right now I’m volunteering,” which makes you look like a great person.

It’s also networking, because you could be volunteering next to me, and I might be hiring, right? So I do agree with [Parker] that people approach it wrong. From the standpoint of technology, I’m not sure what his thesis was, but I do think that at least technology companies can weave doing good by doing well into their company culture and into their business model. So that as they grow, and as they get more profitable and better and stronger, so too does their corporate social responsibility department.

Nike’s a great example of this. They got started because they were sort of forced to, but they have a 250-person Corporate Social Responsibility team, and they do some wonderful stuff around the world.