Due Diligence and Innovation Are as Important as Ever

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos made headlines earlier this year by promising, via Twitter, a massive charitable donation to a cause that he has yet to determine. Interestingly, this promise came with a request for guidance as to where the largesse ought to go. By reaching out to users of the social network, he’s become the latest (and potentially largest) donor who has taken advantage of input from the masses.

Soliciting opinions via social media is indeed an exciting new method to help with the process. Bezos, for one, has the large following to make his call for direction attract a massive number of replies. If he can effectively winnow down those replies, it’s likely that he’ll have found some great, previously-unheralded causes or innovative strategies to more efficiently attack well known long-standing issues. Without question this open forum will attract some wacky ideas, however, it only takes one thought-provoking concept, combined with Bezos’ resources and determination, to generate unprecedented impact in a particular area.

This tack is certainly nontraditional, but an open mind applied toward finding new leads in philanthropy can be a great tool when performing your due diligence. Often the most valuable step a philanthropist can perform is the legwork to determine the optimal path to reach a targeted beneficiary. At first glance, Bezos’ action may seem revolutionary, but it really is more a sign of the times as exploration has always been a vital part of philanthropy.

There are a great many strategies for effectively allocating your time and money, and each one deserves thoughtful consideration. Being able to impact people in the here and now, if done properly, can have tangible results and exponential implications. Social media has the unprecedented ability to touch a wide variety of people virtually simultaneously, and some marvelously creative campaigns have made their causes relevant in ways unimaginable a decade or two ago. This is truly an exciting time for philanthropy, one where there are ever more avenues to make our money and time go farther.

The response to Bezos’ tweet shows the extraordinary need and appeal of philanthropy. We might not all have his following (or bank account) but to use every bit of information at our fingertips is a duty we all share when allocating our charitable resources of time and money. This due diligence can take the form of a Twitter missive to our followers, combing through the thousands of ratings performed by Charity Navigator and similar groups, or doing your own investigating by asking peers, role models and the staffs at charitable organizations. Ultimately, it’s about making the best use of the information we have, no matter who we are.

The aim of any philanthropist is to make the most helpful impact in the lives of those who need it. When we gather up all the knowledge we can before making a decision and weighing it thoughtfully, we’re assured that our decision is the wisest one possible. Thanks to the reach of the Internet, we now have the ability to quickly gather and review vast amounts of information on a global scale. Few can match the net Bezos can cast worldwide for information, but we can all employ the principles of doing our homework and incorporating the creativity of others in order to make our efforts better and more relevant.