Ideas Are Scarcer Than Money

“Ideas are scarcer than money; talent is scarcer than ideas”

With these words, Professor Leslie Lenkowsky ended his presentation earlier today at the inaugural conference hosted by The Center for the Study of Philanthropy in Israel at Hebrew University. Dr. Lenkowsky, Director of Graduate Programs at The Center on Philanthropy (Indiana University) spoke eloquently to the (mostly) academic attendees, focusing largely on who gives, why they give and how they give.

And the most important reason for giving: “people are asked”.

Sounds simple; but we tend to forget this all to often. Dr. Lenkowsky continued, “Done properly, philanthropy creates a bond between the giver and receiver”.

Many were also surprised to hear that here in Israel during 2002 (the last year with complete comparable research), gifts to amutot totaled 1.34% of our GNP; 2nd in the world only to the U.S. with 80% of donations going to those health related.

We also heard about social entrepreneurs, particularly where innovative ways are being developed to help the needy. However, we were cautioned that it is “easier to talk about social ventures to solve problems than establish them” (referring to the ventures themselves). As to social philanthropy, we will be returning to this topic in future posts.

For the inaugural conference, an excellent beginning to something that very much needs to be on our communal agenda. We hope the Center posts his entire paper; if so we’ll let you know.

about The Center for the Study of Philanthropy in Israel: The Center will engage in efforts to develop and promote basic and applied research knowledge on philanthropy in Israel and in Jewish communities throughout the world.

It will focus on research projects which explore the development of philanthropy in Israel and in Jewish communities throughout the world and examine how those philanthropic activities have contributed to society. The research findings will serve as a basis for expanding the Center’s efforts to develop academic curricula and enrichment programs in the field of philanthropy.

Particular areas of interest and research include:

  • The history of philanthropy in Israel
  • Private, entrepreneurial, and community philanthropy
  • The welfare state and market economy: philanthropy and its impact on the welfare state.
  • The role of foundations in shaping public policy in Israel
  • The role of philanthropy and its impact on social policy
  • The role of foundations and philanthropists in shaping civil society
  • Commercial foundations: capital, roles, and outcomes
  • Jewish philanthropists: trends and changes in patterns of charity
  • The impact of taxation on motives for charity

updated March 20th: In today’s Jerusalem Post is a follow-up interview, “The Gain of Give and Take”, between Professor Lenkowsky and Ruthie Blum. You can read the complete interview here.