Monday, July 2, 2012

What It Takes To Be A Philanthropist

In the session Women Philanthropist: Doing It Differently the moderator Anne Molse asked everyone who considered themselves a philanthropist to raise their hand.  Overwhelmingly at least 80% of the room responded with hands in the air.

Mosle then asked everyone who had volunteered in the last month to raise their hands.  Almost 100% of the attendees raised their hand.  The moderator said you are all philanthropist.

Many times people who hear the word philanthropist and think of the big names that we have heard…Rockefeller …Gates…to name a couple but most are every day volunteers.  Yes, it could be an afterschool program, volunteering to coach your son’s little league or cultivating the community garden.  We all can make a difference and contribute in our own way. 

One of the panelists, Tory Burch, talked about the founding of her company and said from the start she knew she wanted a social aspect to the company. Two years ago she started a foundation not only to do microfinance here in the United States for  women business owners but to also look at mentor and peer mentor programs.  She used her experience in founding a business to help other business owners.

I argue that it is time to start looking at philanthropy in a new way…and not thinking that we don’t have enough money or resources to be of service.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines a philanthropist as “one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare.”

Often, I am asked by people who are interested in nonprofit and philanthropy where to start. My advice is start with something you are passionate about.  Katie Couric, another panel member, started with Cancer research after losing her husband to colon cancer; for others, education is their passion.   Or it could stem from your love of music or technology.  Think of your gifts and talents that could benefit others. 

I will leave you a quote:

Never estimate the power of a small act –Tory Burch

We all have something to contribute….no act is too small or insignificant when you consider we are working to make a difference in people’s lives.

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