November 15th is National Philanthropy Day – a day to raise awareness of philanthropy, and say thanks to those who make contributions to promote the welfare of others, help the planet, or acknowledge an organization that enhanced their life. The list of causes is vast, but the number of donors is declining. One reason is a lack of understanding of who’s a philanthropist, and what an act of philanthropy is.
Philanthropy is the love of humankind, and the desire to assist others. A philanthropist is someone who expresses their love by giving - gifts of time, expertise and resources to help others.
We sometimes think only of monumentally large contributors as philanthropists. When asked to name a philanthropist, Bill Gates or Melinda Gates or Canada’s Seymour Schulich may come to mind. We think of the size of their gifts, versus the intent, meaning and wishes behind them.
The truth? You likely interact with philanthropists every day. Anyone who cares, and helps by giving, is a philanthropist. Reconsider your definition of a philanthropist. And acknowledge yourself as a philanthropist if you have given to help others. Count yourself among heroes! Your participation – not the amount of your gift – is what really matters. As we learned when we were young, it’s the thought that counts, especially when it comes to philanthropy.
The most meaningful gifts I have been part of (giving or receiving) are not necessarily the largest or most impactful. They’re the gifts that are extremely heartfelt, are a personal sacrifice, and make incredible statements of beliefs, passions, and care. They’re the gifts that transform people – the beneficiaries AND the benefactors.
To all SHAD’s donors, thank you. You can be proud of your contributions. On National Philanthropy Day, we celebrate you for making the world a better place.
Wendy Zufelt-Baxter, Vice President, Advancement at 3:28 PM