More Than Money
Issue #28

Who Knows You're Rich?

Table of Contents

“Not Just a Personal Decision”

A Pitch for Openness

Being open or hidden about wealth has consequences not only for our own lives, but for the lives of people we're closest to, for our communities, and for society as a whole (given that millions of people with wealth are making these choices every day).

What might happen if thousands of us who care about building a better world became more open about our resources? Not in the way advertisers would have us do it-to flaunt wealth for power, prestige, and supposed sex appeal- but in a way that opens real dialogue and is a force for healing among people of all backgrounds?

I believe this kind of openness could:

  • Give hope to people who are not rich (about human nature, about generosity) and change the culture's stereotyped views about wealth.
  • Inspire wealthy people who want to break out of the mold and do more of social benefit with their lives, but aren't sure how.
  • Challenge the myth that money just comes from hard work, thus giving people a more realistic sense of their worth, their finances, and the need for policy changes.
  • Pave the way for more positive partnerships between people with wealth and social justice organizations.
  • Encourage people of all backgrounds to have more honest conversation about money with their family, friends, and colleagues, thus paving the way for deeper relationships.

I have tasted some these benefits. I'll never forget an African- American woman I know who was raised poor and had spent her life organizing women in poverty, who wept in appreciation when I talked with her about my own experiences with money and how they had led me to start More Than Money. We had been working closely together for a year before I dared open this conversation. She was amazed and clearly energized to discover there were rich people who actually cared. I know many people who have gained the courage to be more true to themselves (and to be bolder givers!) because I have shared my money story and encouraged them to share theirs. I'm still scared each time I'm public-I recently said no to pictures in our local paper, because I didn't want the guy at the gas pump recognizing me-but the positive consequences far outshine the risks.

How "out" to be about wealth is not a one-time decision, but a decision made hundreds of times, day in and day out. For me, the work of being open-getting through my fears, having honest conversations, listening and changing-is some of the most satisfying and potent work I do. It is a contribution towards change that is most uniquely mine to do. So come on out! There are hundreds of us here who can guide and encourage you.

by Anne Slepian

Anne Slepian is an award-winning writer, presenter, and organizer on issues of wealth and philanthropy. She and her husband, Christopher Mogil, are co-founders of More Than Money. Together, they have authored numerous publications, including Welcome to Philanthropy, We Gave Away a Fortune, and Taking Charge of Our Money, Our Values, and Our Lives.

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