Imagine you won the talent lottery and now you are adored by fans far and wide. So much so, that they actually go out and raise money to give back to you if you will start a foundation to change the world?
If it were you, what would you do to change the world?
That’s what happened to Josh Groban, singer, songwriter, and actor, with more than 25 million record sales. In 2005 fans interrupted a concert to hand Josh a giant check for $50,000.
In an Oct. 28 interview for Forbes Magazine, Groban described it this way:
“They gathered autographs of mine and sold them on eBay, which would normally be a not-so-nice thing to do, but they stopped the show, and they said, ‘We, your fans, are giving you this money back and we want you to start a foundation.’”
Not to disappoint his fans, that is what he did. He started the Josh Groban Foundation soon after, supporting various causes, including an orphanage in Africa. By 2011 he decided that he wanted his philanthropy to be less about him and more about a cause that changed his own life - arts education. According to Groban, he is the product of an arts education that in his words, “saved my life in so many ways.”
In the past six years, Find Your Light Foundation has made close to 60 grants to arts education programs from the East Coast to the West Coast. According to the most recently available tax data on the foundation, 10 grants in 2015, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, were made to organizations for programs from the arts in inner-city schools, engaging college student volunteers in a program that teaches after-school art programs.
These are small grants, targeted for impact. They’re focused philanthropy that aims to change the arts education world. Can he? Will he? We don’t know yet, but I know it won’t happen without effort.
Where do stories like this leave you and me? No super talent, no fans to bring us $50,000 giant checks to start something.
Here are the takeaways for me from the Josh Groban story.
- Learn to give by starting where you are and giving what you can. He started with $50,000.
- Add to it when resources allow. Over the years he increased his giving but not in super large sums.
- Spend time learning what’s important to you so you can describe it well to others. Visit Josh Groban’s website at www.fylf.org , and you will know what matters to him and why.
- Ask where the work you want to do is already being done well and start there. It’s a safe place to learn.
- Invite others to join you in work that matters. You don’t have to have 25 million record sales or millions of fans to gather a group together who share your passion.
We can focus our giving on that one idea that gets us excited and invite our family and friends - our fan base, no matter the size, to help us start. It took Josh Groban six years to narrow his focus to the one issue that made the most difference in his life and that he believed could have the same impact on other children.
From studying the kind of programs and projects Josh is supporting, I realized he is not trying to invent the wheel. Inventions and pilot programs require a tremendous investment of time and money. And knowledge is not cheap. Nor is the wisdom to know what to do with it once you find it.
Here’s one final tip: Take what you have and get started. That is how change starts and how it gets done, little by little. Josh says, “If you let the over-excitement of wanting to do too much with too little, or the guilt of not being able to do enough bog you down, then you wind up having inaction.”
Join Josh and change the world your way. Start, learn, test, get deliberate, test again, learn. Don’t reinvent the philanthropy wheel, get on it. That’s how you give well and change the world, one small act at a time.
Dawn Franks, CEO of Your Philanthropy offers advising services to families, businesses and foundations to enhance the giving experience and maximize impact. She writes a blog, the YP Journal, at www.your-philanthropy.com . Comments and questions are welcome. Send to email@example.com.