The philanthropic efforts of some of the world’s richest entrepreneurs are impressive. Bill & Melinda Gates have their foundation, empowering and investing in third world healthcare, Mark & Priscilla Zuckerberg support education, justice and science initiatives, while Sir Richard Branson has Virgin Unite.
These are people who at some point realise they have too much and set about sharing their excess wealth to change the world for the better. That quote of unknown origin comes to mind – “When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence”.
The interesting thing about wealth is that few of us ever feel we have ‘more than we need’. Until you get to be a millionaire or perhaps billionaire, most of us ‘need’ what we earn, living within our means. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about building a longer table ourselves.
Every week I get to travel globally to do what I do. I get to experience those wonderful first world problems of delayed plane departures, phone charger compatibility issues and hotel rooms with jammed A/C controls. But global travel teaches you many things. There are countries where clean drinking water is not a guarantee, where the education system is not available to all, where simple treatable conditions like Malaria kill every day. Closer to home, there are parents struggling to get the support they need for their critically ill children, refugees trying to make a new life but trapped in a no-man’s land camp for years, people we pass on the street every day that have nowhere to sleep tonight.
So, we all need to build that longer table, and we all need to do it in a way that makes us feel that at least we made some difference. The problem is choosing where to make that difference. The KH Team have debated this back and forward for a long time. Do you invest in Education to help others rise to their potential or do you invest in Healthcare and vaccines, ensuring that children are healthy enough to reach school going age in the first place? Do you invest in local issues or third world crises? Do you help many a little, or a few a lot?
What we have learned is that these debates hurt your head. Choosing one over another is hard, if not impossible. So, we have decided that the KH Foundation will not choose. It will be a foundation that simply builds that longer table. Who we ask to sit at that table with us will change. In that way, over time, we can feel that we have made some difference to causes that matter to us, and to you our clients. If you are reading this and have an initiative that you feel is worthy of our attention, please reach out. Every year we will put our effort and focus into supporting and making a difference to causes that matter to us.
We do not accept donations, although we thank you if you were thinking along those lines. The foundation activities are funded from a percentage of the revenue from every speech I deliver worldwide. It makes every moment I step on stage even more worthwhile, adding to my own personal ‘why’.