American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie once set the standard for giving back: “No man can become rich without himself enriching others,” he said. “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.”
Scores of the world’s wealthiest people have taken to his philosophy, donating their riches to hundreds of causes. Indeed, if you were to list the most generous people in the world the people on that list would also be some of the world’s richest.
As an example of this, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, along with hundreds of the planet’s billionaires, have signed The Giving Pledge. Those making the Giving Pledge make a promise that a majority of their wealth will be dedicated to funding charitable causes. Inspired by this, I started something similar, The Give Back Promise, encouraging the worlds millionaires and multi-millionaires to do the same.
Giving back is in our DNA. Based on a survey of six hundred and forty high-net-worth individuals with at least $3 million in investable assets, a 2015 U.S. Trust report found that 78 percent of respondents participate in charitable giving and that 66 percent volunteer time as a way to give back.
The survey, which asked about aspects of a “life well lived,” also found that “giving back to society” was the second most cited area of life — after “health” — to which respondents felt they should pay more attention, while the top five reasons for wanting to give back were “to support causes that matter most to me” (55 percent), “to set an example for my children” (43 percent), “to change the world for the better” (33 percent), “I believe the wealthy have a moral obligation to share their good fortune with those less fortunate” (32 percent), and “I am grateful for kindness or support given to me when I needed it” (30 percent).
You see, to achieve wealth requires that a person be driven by a sense of purpose and a desire to succeed. And while there is satisfaction gained from setting and achieving worthwhile goals, what makes life fulfilling is not money; it’s what you do with it.
Being at peace with the world requires that we serve a purpose greater than our own material happiness. What good is financial success if we never look beyond ourselves and use what we’ve earned to make the world a better place?
Charitable contributions don’t just give you that immediate rush of satisfaction and pride you get from helping someone else. A recent scientific study revealed that when two groups of people were given just $40 to spend, the group instructed to spend its part on charity showed a decrease in blood pressure compared to the group told to spend the money on themselves. In other words, giving to charity doesn’t just make you feel better; it has been shown to actually improve your health.
And if that weren’t enough, here’s a dozen personal reasons why those that signed the Giving Pledge made the commitment:
Make a Difference – “Improve the human condition” (Laura and John Arnold); “to make a better world” (Alfred E. Mann); “leave the world a little better than we found it.” (Sanford and Joan Weill)
Address Major Problems– “Transform health and health care” (Michele Chan and Patrick Soon-Shiong); “stop preventable deaths” from disease (Bill and Melinda Gates);“address critical global challenges” (David Rockefeller)
Provide Opportunity – “Responsibility to ensure the same opportunities for others” (Laura and John Arnold); give “children every chance to pursue their own dreams.” (Bill and Melinda Gates); “level the playing field”in keeping with “America’s root principles” of “equal opportunity” (George Kaiser)
Help Less Fortunate – “Benefit others who, through the luck of the draw, have received the short straws in life” (Warren Buffett); “aiding the most vulnerable populations in the world” (Barron Hilton)
Repay Debt – “A privilege to give back”(Eli and Edyth Broad); “the desire to give back” (Jon and Karen Huntsman); “giving back was instilled in me by my father” (Ted Turner)
Fuel Innovation – Support “ground breaking work” in scientific research (Paul Allen);“giving to projects that may not get done otherwise” (Ronald Perelman);“double down on innovative solutions” (Jeff Skoll); “improving life’s quality through innovative approaches” (Jim and Virginia Stowers)
Enjoy Giving – “What a good feeling this gives me.” (Lorry Lokey);“I enjoy giving it away” (T. Boone Pickens); “real satisfaction and pleasure of philanthropy”(David M. Rubenstein);philanthropy is “both challenging and deeply satisfying” (Jim and Marilyn Simons); “nothing more satisfying than grant-making” (Vicki and Roger Sant)
Protect Their Children – “Giving wealth to young and future unborn children… reduces or eliminates the character building challenges.” (Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest); “Passing down fortunes from generation to generation can do irreparable harm.” (Herb and Marion Sandler)
Exercise Good Stewardship – Approaches philanthropy “with the understanding that it (wealth) was not ours to keep” (Jon and Karen Huntsman); “responsibility we felt for being good stewards of that wealth… discover the most efficient and effective use of our resources” (Pierre and Pam Omidyar);
Create a Personal Legacy -“Leave a legacy that many others will remember.” (Michael Bloomberg)
Dispose of Excess – “ Have enough” (Peter Peterson) “Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing the owner.” (Warren Buffett); “We have more money than our family will ever need.” (Pierre and Pam Omidyar)
Follow Religious Convictions– “Faithful to the values and principles that guide us” (Barron Hilton); “puts faith into action” (Elaine and Ken Langone); “spread the faith” (Tom Monaghan); “morally duty bound to help those left behind” (George Kaiser)
As The Giving Pledge notes in their mission statement, we live in innovative times when technology and advances in research promise great things for the future, but only if people interested in changing the world for the better come together to discuss how this may be accomplished through philanthropy.
You don’t have to be rich to give to charity, and giving doesn’t necessarily mean handing over money. If you don’t have any to spare, you can donate your time, your skills, or your expertise to a cause that you believe in, and you may find that you get more in return than you expected.
That’s been the case for me. I’m on the Board of Directors for Child Advocates in my community. Child Advocates mission is to help children who have been abused and to break the cycle of abuse. The return of my money and my time to this great cause has been immeasurable, as it’s given me a sense of pride and joy to know that I’m making a difference in lives less fortunate.
I hope this article inspires you to give back and also to achieve wealth, so that you can give even more back! And if you’re looking for a place to give back, there are many of my fellow Houstonians in need right now as they recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. If you’re so inclined, I encourage you to make a donation to the Red Cross or your favorite charity, to help the victims of this horrible weather event. You’ll be glad you did!
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
P.S. Are you missing out on what tens of thousands are getting in their mailbox? Sign up on my email list and there will be lots of extra stuff about building wealth that you will receive in the future if you do!
P.S.S. What’s this got to do with you? If you don’t take action, absolutely nothing. But remember this – most people fail to achieve what they want in life simply because they never start. If you’re ready to escape the rat race and live life on your terms, don’t wait. There’s nothing for sale on this blog. I just provide actionable advice for free. What do you have to lose? Start today.
Ready for more tips on how to achieve the free life? Check-out more articles from the blog archives below: