Giving with meaning is the tag line for my company, harp-weaver LLC. I often think about how you define the “meaning” that guides one’s personal philanthropy. I was reading Acumen’s blog tonight. For those of you who don’t know, Acumen believes that entrepreneurs will ultimately find the solutions to poverty and so they fund entrepreneurs focused on offering critical services – water, health, housing, and energy – at affordable prices to people earning less than four dollars a day. Acumen believes the key is patient capital. They use philanthropic capital to make disciplined investments – loans or equity, not grants – that yield both financial and social returns. Any financial returns they receive are recycled into new investments.
Acumen’s blog included a quote which inspires the folks at Acumen. This really spoke to me and I thought I would share it. It is an exerpt from John W. Gardner’s “Personal Renewal” which he wrote in November of 1990.
“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”