On the New York social scene, philanthropy is the primary organizing force. As any New Yorker can attest, it is very often causes that are the reason people gather in ballrooms and concert halls, and if managed correctly, these events can raise enormous amounts of money for important efforts, both in New York and around the world.
Why is it that philanthropy is at the heart of so many of these gatherings? I think the answer tells us a lot about human nature, and a lot about how smart companies will deepen their relationship with their most important customers.
Philanthropy feels good — and it should. While there is a certain school of thought that suggests that philanthropy should be anonymous, and sacrificial in nature, I disagree. Our brains and our bodies feel good when we help other people — it is a physiological fact. If you haven't experienced it, go pick up some litter in the park, help an elderly person cross the street, or send a check to your local homeless shelter. You will feel good, and this is a profoundly good thing for our world. Altruism is embedded in our humanity.
Being thanked for philanthropy also feels good — and it should. When a philanthropist walks up on the stage at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and is applauded by 500 of their friends and colleagues for their work to make the community a better place, the chances of that philanthropist doing more of it increase. Even better, dozens of people in that room may think to themselves, "Hey, I'd like to be on that stage some day" and decide to get involved themselves. Everyone likes a pat on the back, and we should do as much as we can to reward those who decide to give back.