Are You a Philanthropist?

By Executive Director Lindsay Divan

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a fundraising class, while at class the instructor asked, by a show of hands who considered themselves to be a philanthropist? No hands went up, a room full of nonprofit professionals and no philanthropists, what is wrong with this scenario? We all agreed that we volunteer our time and donate monetarily, then why didn’t we see ourselves as philanthropists?  What is a philanthropist? Is it someone who donates hundreds of thousands of dollars? Or someone who volunteers countless hours? Why did we feel the amount of time and money we donate wasn’t worthy of being a philanthropist? We shouldn’t feel that way, nor should you, every minute, every penny counts and we are all worthy of being philanthropists. The Greek define philanthropy as love of humanity. Merriam-Webster defines philanthropy as the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people. How great is that, love of humanity, make life better for others, of course we are philanthropists! 

A friend recently told me about a Fallen Heroes event she attended; she had volunteered to hold a sign picturing a fallen hero while the families walked into the event. The mother of the soldier stopped and embraced my friend; she thanked her for being there to honor her son. They continued to visit and after only a few minutes they shed tears together and embraced again. With the topic fresh in my mind, I asked my friend if she considered herself a philanthropist. Her response was no I just volunteered my time.

“Just” volunteered her time; she did so much more. Look at the impact she had on that woman’s life in such a short period of time, she truly made a difference in her life and the woman touched my friend’s life as well. She didn’t “just” volunteer her time; you didn’t “only” donate $10. Being a philanthropist shouldn’t be down played, it’s changing lives and that is a big deal. Embracing a philanthropic culture makes us human, it gives us purpose, it reminds us not to take life for granted, and it is the love of human kind. In 1986, President Ronald Regan proclaimed November 15th as National Philanthropy Day. This is a great reminder for us to celebrate philanthropy, to increase public awareness about the importance of philanthropy and to encourage others to find their inspiration to be a philanthropist. I hope you all have a Happy National Philanthropy Day!