Who is the Altruistic Dragon?

I am a philanthropist. Which, frankly, is amazing to me. Sometime in the last few years I have transitioned from considering myself a “charitable giver” to a full-fledged “philanthropist”.

It’s true that I have been able to increase my donations considerably as my income has grown, but that isn’t the whole story. In addition to the “actual value” of my donations, my interest in the non-profit world has increased substantially. I have diversified my engagement and I am actively involved in my community via cash donations, mentorship, membership in large donor groups, gifts of time, and other miscellaneous pro-bono activities such as grant reviews and donor experience panels. In some groups I am sought out for my advice on how to encourage younger high earners to contribute more. In others I am valued for my ability to sort damaged or expired canned goods from quality donations. I have volunteered directly for more than twenty organizations over the last few years and many more indirectly.

It is now my belief that anyone who gives intentionally is a philanthropist.

If you give according to YOUR values and YOUR beliefs, then you are a philanthropist too.

And if you are a philanthropist, then you are bettering our world and bettering your own life.

Now, to satisfy the curious, I am also an engineer. I am employed full time at a large corporation. I have worked for a number of companies over the last few years in both the UK and the US. I am actively involved in our corporate giving campaigns and have been for greater than 15 years. My income has fluctuated over the years although it has been rising steadily for the last five. I give five figures a year to my charities of choice and for the last three years I have leveraged taxes and corporate matches to achieve a 1:9 giving ratio (for every $1 I give, the charity receives $9). At the same time, I have reduced my effective tax rate by 6% every year (WIN!!)

Somewhat surprisingly to myself, my detailed, engineering tendencies have revealed themselves to me over the last ten years in my obsession with financial research, behavioral psychology and philosophy. I am fascinated by the intersection between beliefs and behavior; between values and the pull of extrinsic rewards.  I am also interested in the dynamics between families, individuals, social groups and financial choices. I love to read. I love to investigate. I love to work the system for the betterment of others. And I love a good discussion!

But enough about me… on to the topics at hand!!


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