Altruism – Vicktor Flagënhein Foundation

Beyond Ourselves

The Smart Money Corporation is a financial institution with the main purpose of generating profit, for itself and for its partners. Nonetheless, we believe, practice and foster actions that make a difference in the lives of others. We borrow the term coined by the philosopher Auguste Comte and call this set of behaviors and attitudes altruism.

Beyond philanthropy, which is defined as giving to those in extreme need, altruism is about gestures and actions that benefit a group or individual without any expectation of return to the giver.

The Science Of Altruism

The British scientist Charles Darwin became worldly known for his work: “On the Origin of Species”. There, he explains how individuals compete with each other in order to propagate their own genes and how the fittest end up prevailing and perpetuating through their offspring. However, a part of the evolutionary puzzle wasn’t so clear. Darwin had trouble explaining why some animals were able to sacrifice themselves or chose a momentary loss on behalf of another.

The American scientist, professor at Harvard University, Edward Wilson, proposed a complementary idea to Darwin in his book: “The Social Conquest of Earth”. To Wilson, Natural Selection occurs on many levels, not only the individual. When we study animals in groups, we observe that the groups, where cooperation and altruism are present, have a significantly greater chance of survival and perpetuating their genes than individualist groups.

In neuroscience, several researchers try to map the brain mechanisms triggered when one is generous. In a study published in the renowned magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the neuroscientist Moll J. and his collaborators showed, through functional MRI images, that when one performs altruistic actions, the same triggers in the brain linked to reward are activated, especially the ones in the dopaminergic mesolimbic system. That is, the act of helping others is many times as pleasurable as receiving a gift or a financial reward.

SMC and the Others

As knowledge lovers, we couldn’t deny the scientific evidence of altruism. Thus, we incorporated altruism as one of our values. We dedicate 5% (five percent) of our total revenue to fund projects and works that benefit the lives of others through the Vicktor Flagënhein Foundation.

Most of our actions are done through institutions directed to education, health and fight against hunger. The remaining part is invested in what we call “Random Altruism”.

Random Altruism consists in generating a positive impact with one specific, unexpected action in the life of individuals we deem deserving. The idea is to create a singular experience of wonder and joy that will bring that special glow to their eyes.

We can, for instance, in face of an outstanding service, tip a waiter U$ 10,000.00 (ten thousand dollars). Or help make a domestic worker’s dream of buying a beautiful house come true. Or even pay for the cancer treatment of a taxi driver’s daughter we just met.

Another feature of our Random Altruism is that first we help the ones close to us, and after that, we broaden our range of aid. According to our principles, is more coherent to first help those who are close: relatives, friends, and neighbors, and only then allocate resources to the solution of problems in distant countries.

Some of the institutions that Vicktor Flagënhein Foundation supports: