For over 30 years, November 15th has been designated to celebrate the spirit of philanthropy and those dedicated individuals who work hard to make a difference in philanthropic circles. National Philanthropy Day honors the tradition of caring for each other and improving the world.
From large foundations to the smallest of non-profits, the impact of philanthropy across our country is undeniable. Simply put, philanthropy is “goodwill to fellow members of the human race.” Being part of change for the good may be easier than you think.
Simple Ways to Tap into Your Philanthropic Side
Most of us have good intentions to make giving to others a priority, but unless you make it a concerted effort, that good intention will never make it past being a good idea. You have to make a decision yourself to increase your household budget directed towards giving to a cause or a charity. Make an extra gift to your church in honor of your pastor, give to an educational cause to honor your favorite teacher, or support your local animal shelter by giving funds or by seeing how you can help the staff.
We all like a little competition, so think about involving friends in giving to a charity by matching their donations. Let’s say a friend gives $100 to the local homeless shelter, you match that donation, and on and on with other friends. If you have kids, grab a shoebox, choose a charity your kids can get involved in and have them give a little each week from their allowance. It’s never too early to teach kids the importance of giving back.
When you start talking about philanthropy, people get the idea of making a grand donation of a house to a disabled veteran or a car to a single mom working two jobs, but there are very small ways to be philanthropic, as well. An act of kindness falls under the “philanthropic” column. If you’re in line at a fast food restaurant, pay for the person’s order behind you. If you see a homeless person, stop to talk to them. Carry someone’s groceries to the car. Go to a nursing home and offer to play music for the residents. Giving doesn’t have to always involve a dollar sign.
Teachers are some of the most giving people we ever cross paths with, and letting them know they made a difference in our lives means a lot to them. Several years ago, I got in contact with my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Shirley Hedrick and my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Susie Jaynes, and we went to lunch. We talked about the “good old days” and I shared with them what their investment in me meant and how I am a better person for it. These two ladies are amazing and caring, and their touching the lives of students over the years, including mine, has made an impact on this world. Teachers need to know that, so tell them.
If you have the financial means, make a single or an ongoing donation to a charity that serves a need you are personally passionate about. Women’s services, animal rescues, homeless shelters, hospitals, whatever means something to you, give—and remember, no amount is too small.
Philanthropy is the backbone of who we are, both individually and collectively. Whether it’s a financial donation or the gift of time and talent, it feels good to do good. Non-profits bring people together, unite and inspire us, and improve our daily life. Through conversation, education, events, and kind acts, giving keeps us all connected, and as a connected body, we can take on anything.