Incorporating phenomenological philosophy in philanthropic giving

Philanthropic giving should be strategically tailored around individ- ual experiences to ensure specific needs are adequately met.

Individual philanthropists and foundations primarily provide resources to groups and organizations in key funding areas like education, health care, arts and culture and community and economic development — which commonly does not include individual giving. This way of operating limits the individual impact of philanthropic giving, which could lead to specific needs remaining unresolved.

There is a need for individual philanthropists and foundations to adopt a new philosophy on giving that is inclusive to individual experiences, which could ensure long-term equitable change.

Phenomenology is a philosophical movement that originated in the 20th century, which indicates that the ultimate source of all meaning and value is the lived experience of human beings. Through the phenomenological lens we can study and understand the meaning of people’s lived experiences, which could provide a more in-depth analysis of what their needs are.

When phenomenology and philanthropic giving are combined we can identify the unmet needs of an individual and provide tailored resources that impact their life directly. This way of strategic giving would remove organizational bottlenecking and ensure individuals are receiving resources that address root causes that impact them on a daily basis.

On March 3, I collaborated with Chapel Vision Community Devel- opment Corporation to host a Social Shift 4 Hour Mural Challenge sponsored by the Skillman Foundation President’s Youth Council, of which I am a member. This opportunity allowed four high school and college

students to create a mural based around a theme: “Youth Power and Excellence in Detroit.” The winning youth artist received a $2,500 prize towards art supplies, funding for school and basic necessities. Also, the winning piece was donated to the Skillman Foundation for further exposure. This was a beneficial event for the community and participants — but what if we supported the artist in a more substantial way?

As an example, if phenomenology was incorporated in philanthropic giving, artists would not need to go through competitions and funding rounds for support or to access re- sources. Foundations and individual

philanthropists should study community members one-on-one and provide a pipeline of specific resources that meet their needs directly. Individuals looking for support should not need to fit general guidelines to receive resources — their experiences should be enough.

When an individual’s needs are identified and directly supported, there are a plethora of opportunities available to them to achieve a boundless future.

How will you incorporate phenomenology in philanthropic giving?