Since National Philanthropy Day is on Wednesday November 15, it’s a good time to talk about “matching funds” a term used in the funding world for the pieces of the money puzzle that fit together for a healthy grant application.  This puzzle includes funds from the applicant or partners through money that’s been saved, special events, and fundraising. A portion could come from public funds, like state, provincial or federal funding. A percentage could come from the private sector through foundations or corporations.

Give, Exchange, Prosper

Some background on this matching and supporting system–let’s take the technical jargon out of it, put the people element into it, and step back to explore some history of that thing that many of us humans like to do: give, exchange, and prosper.

It’s reassuring to know that our tendency to gather for the common good and redistribution of wealth could go as far back as the time of 3.2 million year-old Lucy, whose skeleton was discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia.Why? Because it’s a human tendency to care for our families, share food and build social networks to cope with our environments.

Moving into more modern times, the word philanthropy comes from the Greek “philos” for loving and “anthropos” for human being.

In 1900, with the Century Company, New York industrialist Andrew Carnegie published The Gospel of Wealth, a compilation of magazine articles about philanthropy written between 1886 and 1889. After making his fortune, Carnegie turned to philanthropy with a passion and established the Carnegie Institute.

Carnegie, describing the publishing of his book said in his 1920 Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, “After my book The Gospel of Wealth was published, it was inevitable that I should live up to its teachings by ceasing to struggle for more wealth. I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution. Our profits had reached forty mills of dollars per year and the prospect of increased earnings before us was amazing.”

Carnegie was good on his word by making his first distribution to the “men in the mills” to whom he gave $4 million “as an acknowledgement of the deep debt I owe to the workmen who have contributed so greatly to my success.” In addition, in this first distribution, he gave $1 million dollars to maintain libraries and halls for the workers.

Carnegie’s philosophy became popular in the early 1900s and continues on today with the idea of corporate profits being “reinvested in the common good.”

Foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have taken this concept to a global scale and focus on improving and changing people’s lives through promoting better health care worldwide.

Similarly, in 1999, Canadian, Jeffrey Skoll, Past President of eBay and Officer of the Order of Canada created the Skoll Foundation with a mission to support social entrepreneurs who drive change. So far, the foundation has invested millions internationally.

Today, crowdfunding is the epitome of  the “matching funds” concept and provides opportunities for individuals and rural communities to have a presence in gathering support in their lives and communities.

For more information on National Philanthropy Day, see the National Philanthropy Day Official Website on the Association of Fundraising Professionals site. If you’d like more information on grants, grant writing and funding, please see my book The Grant Writing and Funding Coach–How to Find and Acquire the Funds You Need