Conscience Laundering – a term made known by Peter Buffet to address the wealthy philanthropists who assuage their conscience by giving money to charity.

Truth is most of us partake in some form of conscience laundering. It is a way to pay off guilt without really getting engaged.

It is not necessarily a bad thing. Giving is giving, whether from guilt or in the whole spirit of giving.

I propose that it is worth considering your guilt…feeling into it. Get into the smell and texture of it. It offers a rich catalog of our shadowy elements, our fears, our denials.

Paying for the guilt to go away is a very ineffective solution. Life rarely works like that.

What the world needs more of is active engagement, not passive sideline watching. Passionate embrace of causes and things that matter is being called for.

Setting up a charity for your company as a form of conscience laundering just because it is the right thing to do only expresses the shallowness of your company and you as a leader. What people want in their work places is the ability to bring their passion and their interest in causes to work*. They want the company to truly mean what it says and does. They want to feel like there is a bigger story, a bigger reason they show up each day. If they feel this at work they will be more likely to bring their whole selves to work.

In other words to get into the marrow of your philanthropy pays in far far bigger ways than handing out money.

By all means give, however, give to your heartache. Go deep into your guilt, and give to its source. Paradoxically, when we do this, we are happier.

*See Unlocking the Passion of the Explorer at Deloittes Centre for the Edge

Photo credit: Penn State via Compfight

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