National Philanthropy Day is November 15th!
November 15 is National Philanthropy Day.
Philanthropy: sounds awesome, doesn’t it? We tell ourselves we’ll definitely be philanthropists when we grow up, or when our ship comes in, or when we retire. When the truth is, we don’t have to wait for anyone or anything—we can be philanthropists today!
Merriam-Webster defines philanthropy as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race; an active effort to promote human welfare.” The Oxford dictionary describes it as “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.”
Let’s expand human welfare to include animals and our planet. Let’s define “generosity” as “the act of giving greatly of ourselves.” Because generosity is by no means limited to money. We can give our time, we can give our talents and we can give our compassion.
Ready? Here’s how to become a philanthropist in three easy steps.
Step one: Decide. Do you experience genuine goodwill toward your fellows? Do you truly want to help promote their—our—welfare?
If so, read on! Money makes the world go round but promoting human, animal and environmental welfare isn’t just about cash. We can give time. We can share knowledge. We can sit on a park bench, share coffees and listen.
We all have something to give, even if—especially if—we’re broke, sick or depressed. Because when we’re struggling, we have something the residents of Easy Street don’t: we have experience, we have strength and we have compassion. People tend to fear what they haven’t yet faced. If you’ve already experienced hardship, you’re able to help others in an authentic, I-hear-you-and-feel-you kind of way. The way that connects us heart to heart, life to life. That’s invaluable.
Step two: Choose. Pick a cause, any cause.
There are so many organizations, causes and individuals that need our support, it can be overwhelming. Overwhelm helps no one, least of all you. So let’s narrow it down. Which particular cause calls to you today? Which organization speaks your language? Is there a needy individual in front of you, right now?
Choose something, anything. Your choice may change. Change is always an option. How can you be of service today?
Step three: Begin. Act. Just do it.
Love is an action. Whether you’re giving time, talent or treasure, the time is now. You don’t have to give until it hurts. Just give until it feels good. And then you’ll want to give some more.
Selflessness is a paradox. Because when we reach out to others, who benefits the most? We do. In connecting to our fellows, our own hearts expand. Our lives gain purpose and meaning. The world makes more sense.
When we donate money, share our talents, give our time and attention, we’re not just philanthropists—we’re more fully human. We get to experience a life fully lived, and what in the world feels better than that?