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Philanthropy, Guerilla-Style

Philanthropy, Guerilla-Style

Go Guerilla!

Keesa OCampo

As an ambitious child, my elders would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up. Still unclear to me, I would respond with, “A philanthropist!” Twenty-something years later, I have realized my self-prophecy coming in with a lot of zest and energy, but relatively modest amounts of money and time. All I can say is – thank God for a slow-changing and more inclusive anchor evolution of philanthropy!

In the San Francisco Bay Area, philanthropy is being redefined by groups like Bay Area Benefit. Philanthropy in the United States is basically distinguished by two main activities: donating time and donating money. What we’ve coined as “guerilla philanthropy” digs deeper and requires that there be a careful selection of advocates that directly affect a disenfranchised or under-served group in society.

This may mean children who are victims of violence, the prison system and gang-related incarcerations, or generally leveling the playing field for under-represented communities. Supplementing the government’s work to address these big issues, Bay Area Benefit responds by taking our private initiatives and translating that into public good. Additionally, something that marks Bay Area Benefit is its natural capacity to respond to disaster relief initiatives in record time, proving that many people, irrespective of personal wealth and flexibility of time, want to contribute. It’s just a matter of ‘how.’

For many nonprofit job seekers, it’s important to keep abreast of the changing landscape of philanthropy. I know this because my partners-in-crime and I have begun a new style of grassroots movement in a manner that has proven to be organic, ad hoc and tremendously successful. How do we measure success? We measure by seeing the enormous increase of participants in philanthropy, most notably seen at events and online discussions, about the disasters and their respective relief efforts around the globe.

The objective is to make ‘philanthropy’ a less intimidating activity and open it up to everyone who cares and wants to get involved. The more low-cost involvement you get – especially in this time of frugality and spending consciousness – and the more discussions you generate about deep-seated issues, the more inclusive you become.

Guerilla philanthropy cannot be effective without optimizing the use of online social media. Our website, anchor BayAreaBenefit.org, and our anchor Facebook page have contributed tremendous success to our fundraisers by getting the word out, fast. During our disaster relief fundraiser for the Philippines, there was a point where we hit a viral audience of 25,000!

I’ve realized that carrying out our philanthropy, guerilla-style, requires a very unique skill set and attitude. First, it requires that you choose an cause that is real to your situation that you can talk about and perpetuate in your daily activity. It requires people who believe in these causes with an equal amount of excitement and are willing to put in a commitment and show initiative. And more importantly, it requires that you constantly educate yourself so you can therefore, educate others too.

My recipe is simple: Mama always said – surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, who have natural gifts of communicating, organizing and building – so you’ll keep learning. I have been consistently surprised to learn what kind of magic can happen when we start small, keep pushing and educate our combined networks via Facebook.

She also says, keep reading. And that’s what I do. I learn by doing and I learn by keeping updated on marketing trends, issues developments and experiential anecdotes.

If you’re looking for a job or a place in philanthropy, good news is that there IS a need for you. Because when you’re involved in the movement to improve the well-being of humankind, you already are, believe it or not, a philanthropist.

BayAreaBenefit.org is a not-for-profit effort serving the disenfranchised, under-represented and distressed members of San Francisco Bay Area communities through “guerilla philanthropy,” identifying needs and contributing to filling those needs through grassroots events, activities or initiatives constructed quickly, strategically and at low- or no cost.