“Philanthropy – desire to benefit humanity: a desire to improve the material, social, and spiritual welfare of humanity.”
Philanthropy usually brings to mind very rich people – from the Vanderbilt’s and Rockefellers, to Bill Gates and the “dot.com” millionaires – but we all have the capacity to be philanthropists. Anybody reading this blog is most likely a “charitable giver” already, giving $5, $25, and $100 gifts to different organizations, all of which are worthy. But I see philanthropy as perhaps more focused and thoughtful. What troubles you most about our society? What problem would you most like to see solved? Focus your attention there. Read about the problem and its solutions. Write letters to your local elected representatives. And invest in organizations you find that agree with your ideas about how the problem should be addressed. It can be $20 a month in an automatic withdrawal from your checking account and volunteering 4 times a year, or something more, or something less. The point is to make a commitment and become an advocate for your philanthropic cause.
The Vermont Foodbank might be an excellent focus for you, the new philanthropist. Hunger is a basic need that touches us all. Distributing food so that everyone has access to enough delicious and nutritious food is a humbling yet fulfilling endeavor. The Foobank and our network of more than 270 partners across, along with donors and volunteers served more than 66,000 Vermonters last year–that’s more than 10% of Vermont’s population.
But hunger is not the only problem that needs a solution. Whether it’s reducing violence in society, providing shelter for people, supporting animal shelters, or preserving wildlife habitat, do something.
There is a change that happens when people feel part of something bigger than themselves. It gives us a connection to the community and the larger world. And the next time someone asks you what you do to help others, you can say, “I’ve become a philanthropist.”