Slam, Bam, Thank You O?
This is a belated post in honor of International Women's Day.
I set to the task of finding a woman connected to philanthropy, animals (or nature) and born within 20 years of my birthday to write about. After passing up Jane Goodall and Rachel Carson who were of my father's and grandmother's generations respectively, I settled on Oprah Winfrey. Instead of a boring picture, I decided to post her natal chart for the "astroblogaliciousness" of it- for you astrologers out there who want to diagnose the awesome power of this woman from the inside.
Oprah's impact has been vast! In 2003, Forbes Magazine reported that Oprah had reached billionaire status. She has donated $50m to charity- over a period of years- though I haven't been able to nail that down to how many or which years. From just her Oprah Winfrey show, her estimated annual income is $260m annually. Here's a little tax time treat about assets and expenses of Oprah's Angel Network , or OAN. OAN was founded in 1998 and funds in the areas of: education and literacy, relief and recovery, women, children and families and youth and community development. There is no question that the transformations she's enabled in the lives of people has been truly awe inspiring. Oprah has used her wealth and influence to make her work part of the mainstream culture.
Her latest feat is the announcement of OWN, or, the Oprah Winfrey network. For those of you that still turn on the television these days (we don't), perhaps you will have your own opinion to share about Oprah's Big Give? It's a reality TV show about people challenged to give away $2500 and they have to help people. Plus, it's a competition among humans to do this.
While it sits on my to do list to watch this, I did watch a few YouTube previews and instantly, I found myself turned off. Here is one thoughtful review by M. Smith that gave me some insight into the goings on in the show. The comments are even more revealing. More good stuff from this Chronicle of Philanthropy article. The fundraisers are all whipped up for sure. Fundraising as mass media entertainment doesn't sit well with many.
But even without having seen the show, it seems that the paradox is in the culture. How do you entertain and inspire people to new behavior without all the rigor, patience, relationship-development and compassion that true philanthropy requires? In short, how do you capture the American attention span and inspire it? Being from the mass media and entertainment world, this industry's standards will always guide and impact how she delivers the message and what message she chooses to send.
Does Oprah's Big Give inspire you? Why? Do you give your time and money already to help people, animals or another cause you believe in?