Wealth building isn’t just about financial prosperity, it’s about going through a process of transformation, and making a difference in the world in the process. Conforming to those doing life all around us often doesn’t lend itself to thinking big. If you cling to what you have, the truth is, you’re more likely to lose it. If you give it away though, oddly, it seems to come back in larger quantities. This is what those with wealth often report on the topic of charity.
Paul Dickson is a prime example of someone who is living for something bigger. Paul is a father and the head of a charity called OKE, which provides Kiwi kids with the opportunity to learn life and social skills through productive gardens in schools.
Increasingly, we’re putting ‘more government’ in charge of things we could do ourselves, far more efficiently. Contrary to the Marxist ‘hate the rich to help the poor’ mindset often found in centers of academic ‘excellence’, the pursuit of wealth can lead to a type of social good no government could ever manufacture. Charitable organizations and businesses built on generous principles are a testament to this. For instance, a study conducted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that the most generous states in the United States are those with the highest levels of wealth. Could this suggest that as people become generous, they also become more wealthy, which in turn, causes them to give more? If so, at least technically (and idealistically yes), we’re creating a positive cycle of prosperity and generosity when we engage in charity. It’s infinite wealth, and you’re facilitating it.
I’m not sure how many investors just starting out would buy into thinking like this. There’s a lot of suspicion aimed at those who endorse charity, often as it comes with a healthy dollop of ‘conflict of interest’.
Still, someone has to say it: High levels of wealth, and consistent charity seem to be positively correlated.
One of the themes present when talking to wealthy individuals is the importance of living for something bigger, and even something outside of their own world [family]. Investors I talk with who follow a law of sowing and reaping, often point to a sort of mystical, magical, and accessible, supernatural resource.
Perhaps charity should be considered a new class of investment?
Whether it’s caring for a disabled child, a dying spouse, an unwell parent, or something well outside your family circle, being generous is not always easy.
“No good deed goes unpunished” – Oscar Wilde
Many believe they don’t have enough spare time or money to contribute to charitable causes. Others may feel uncomfortable discussing their wealth and generosity due to negative connotations surrounding the topic. Charity work (including donations) can potentially come with an opportunity cost (lower income), and may require a lot more commitment than the day job paying you far more. In addition, in many cases, you don’t even get a thanks. When it’s hard, expensive, or not often valued, no wonder so many reach for more government to be the facilitator of change. The problem with this? The cost to impact ratio is far too high for governments led by people with little to no relevant commercial experience. Charities and individuals, especially those with expertise, passion, and a sense of purpose, are much better positioned to solve many problems we have today (Libertarian fantasy??)
This is where organizations like OKE come in. By empowering schools and communities with productive gardens, OKE is providing a way for Kiwi kids to learn important life and social skills while also making a positive impact on their environment. Paul and his team understand that making a difference in the world is hard work, but it’s worth it. In Paul’s words, “If you want to make a difference in the world, it’s really hard work – it’s easy being a dick.”
In conclusion, the pursuit of wealth can lead to a type of social good that benefits both the individual and the community. By becoming more generous, we can make a positive impact on the world and build a better future for everyone. Organizations like OKE are an inspiration to us all, and a reminder that reaping wealth has to start first with planting a seed.
P.S. A really great way to get involved with OKE, if you’re into gardening or just keen to get your hands dirty, is to check out their working bees. This is where the host of the podcast (Carley Ellis) originally came across this charity (and idea for this episode).