“Philanthropy” has made the news several times in the last few months, and this week adds to that in a star-studded way. Several events, most of them kicking off today, are bringing in the “Who’s Who” of social change:
The Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting: This conference is bringing together dozens of world leaders and celebrities, such as Laura Bush, Ehud Barak, Lance Armstrong, Tom Brokaw, the Gates, and the Obamas. This group of “changemakers” will gather to bring attention to topics like rebuilding Haiti and creating “market-based” solutions to healthcare and poverty.
The UN Millennium Goals Summit: When the 192 member states of the United Nations agreed to achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) by 2015, they knew the task would be daunting. Five years from the target, the UN is calling on all world leaders to come together to accelerate the work on these goals. USA Today reports that “President Obama, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are among the leaders who will put forth rival plans to get the Millennium Developments Goals back on track.”
The Social Good Summit: Mashable and 92Y have partnered with the United Nations Foundation to discuss the Millennium Development Goals with a broader audience. Specifically, this event (one of the only public events surrounding the UN Summit) will seek to create solutions to the world’s ongoing problems utilizing social media and other innovative technologies.
TEDxChange: The Gates Foundation and TED joined forces to host a “global event” via the web today, presenting a variety of talks by “thinkers and doers” in TED’s typical short-form style presentations. TED broke from its normal course to create a live stream of the day.
What am I to do with this? It’s easy to feel insignificant when you have such big names and entire governments throwing their weight at these problems. Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Rejoice that God’s grace is working through those who do not know Him to tackle such problems as poverty, disease and inequality.
- Remember that the world’s problems cannot be solved without the Gospel. Apart from new life, the root to the problems that plague this world cannot be finally addressed.
- Learn all you can. Concepts which began in secular philanthropy (like micro-finance and the market-based approach) are being used effectively in missions around the world (such as business-as-missions).
- Give strategically. Gates and Buffet may make the headlines, but 75% of giving in the U.S. is done by individuals like you! This dwarves the 12% given by these big foundations. Your dollars, big or small, are able to achieve great good when used wisely in the Kingdom.