How many people can you name who lived 100 years ago? Including politicians, scientists, artists, inventors, historical figures and our own ancestors, many of us struggle to name even three dozen. How many of the 314 million Americans or 7 billion planetarians will be remembered 100 years from now?
Most of us seek meaning in our lives and hope to be remembered after we’re gone. And effective and meaningful philanthropy can be achieved, in part, by asking what kind of legacy you want to leave.
The majority of the Americans who grew up in the Depression and fought abroad and worked at home during World War II are unknown by name to those of us alive today. But, collectively, we know of them as “The Greatest Generation,” whose courage and sacrifice rescued freedom from the threat of totalitarianism. Their generational legacy is the free society that we enjoy today.
Legacy Project chair Susan Bosak writes, “The idea of legacy may remind us of death, but it’s not about death. … Legacy is really about life and living. It helps us decide the kind of life we want to live and the kind of world we want to live in.” She adds, “Through legacy, ‘me’ becomes ‘we.’ … ‘We’ encompasses past and future, old and young, and the society we create and perpetuate.”
How do we create a legacy for future generations? By living a life consistent with our values, in harmony with others, and in a manner that repairs the world and preserves those things that are essential to a healthy, sustainable and productive society and planet. Generous, thoughtful, focused philanthropy is a necessary element of that goal and will help create and solidify the legacy of our generation.
Support the many great nonprofit organizations working here and globally to help preserve the good things in the world that we cherish, and repair those things that cry out for help, improvement and change.