OxfordDictionaries.com describe philanthropy as:
- The desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.
And Merriam-Webster extend it to:
- The practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people.
While philanthropy is generally agreed to be the altruistic effort of making life better for human kind, I prefer to think of it as any effort executed to improve life on earth. Not just for humans and certainly not just by those who’ve accumulated great slabs of financial wealth in their lifetimes.
Philanthropy is as important for kids at school, companies and individuals with more modest resources, for the greatest benefactor of philanthropy is not the receiver but the giver.
When my children engage in the act of giving, they learn empathy for the lives they share the planet with. They learn that all it takes is the sum of small individual efforts to have great impact.
We have two philanthropic pursuits in our home. We help empower small business owners in third world countries with financial support through micro-finance organisation Kiva.
We also help local depression sufferers manage their symptoms with excercise through our venture, Black Dog Boxing. This one is more of a commitment of time than money and it has been a great sadness to me to put this on hold while I was healing myself of bowel cancer. I cannot wait to get this underway again.
You see, I believe we don’t need to wait until we’re wealthy to help others, we need only make a decision to help where we can in projects that we feel engaged enough with, to support.
Kiva for example requires no more than a simple $25 contribution to help others set themselves free of poverty.
But of course philanthropy exists in areas that may never get noticed by regular media.
Philanthropy, is the mum who takes her kids sports team jerseys home to wash after the game on Saturday. Philanthropy, is the man who joins his white collar peers on the streets in a CEO sleepout to raise awareness and funding for the homeless. Philanthropy, is also the boxing coach who spends hour upon countless hour each year to give a kid a chance at a better future than the one his socio-economic upbringing decrees for him.
One day you will stand in front of the mirror and realise you’ve had a great life. Sure, you’ve had a bucketful of challenges that have stopped you in your tracks along the way but for all intents and purposes, you’ve been very lucky.
When you get to that point in your life, don’t find yourself wanting in the generosity department. Don’t find yourself asking “Well, what have I done for my fellow man or the planet we live on”.
We need to be rid of the notion that it is the sole responsibility of the wealthy to lift the poor out of poverty.