Philanthropy means “love of humankind,” and is broadly defined as an active effort to foster and provide for the welfare of others. Most people think of philanthropy as giving large amounts of capital to good works for the benefit of society, thus outside the realm of the average person. If so, philanthropists would only be those who possess great wealth and are able to pursue these noble interests on a grand scale. However, being a philanthropist is within the reach of each and every one of us, of any age, ability or capacity, who chooses to enhance the quality of life, benefit the community and the world, or help those in need.
Any offering that benefits another can be an act of philanthropy. Anyone can be a philanthropist by merely sharing and caring for others. Recently San Diegans have responded to the pleas of area food banks to provide for the 483,000 who are food insecure in San Diego County. Their many acts of kindness have thankfully spawned a greater awareness of the needs of those around us who are trying to cope with hunger everyday.
Philanthropists are those who give of what they have through contributions of money or other resources; who give of themselves through volunteering time, talent, skills or expertise; who give of who they are through acts of kindness, encouragement and compassion; or those who, through the thoughtful donation of precious anatomical gifts during their lifetimes or after death, ultimately even give themselves for others.
Giving enriches the lives of those who give as it benefits those who receive. Giving is empowering and consuming. The more you give, the more you want to give. Many experience a giver’s high, a euphoric physical response much like a runner’s high.
Studies show that family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who come together to volunteer their time and efforts, and contribute their resources also experience grateful contentment, more purpose and joy and better health. And what better gift could we share with others than to nurture their caring spirits and generous hearts for a lifetime of purpose and joy?
In these challenging times, people yearn to feel connected, but are often hesitant to reach out for the acknowledgement or consolation they so desperately need. You can practice the spirit of philanthropy by being the one who reaches out first to give words of encouragement or a warm smile; to give friendship and hope where you sense there is despondency or despair; or to give support and to honor and respect the rights and
freedoms of others.
Embrace philanthropy, the love of humankind in your heart and receive the joys of giving. It will make a difference in the world and in your life. Start by making your own promise to consciously give the gift of one good deed or act of kindness each day, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. +
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