The meaning of philanthropy

One of my goals for 2011 is to live more philanthropically (and figure out what this means in the process). I even made it part of my new motto / slogan.

My thought is that I am at the point in my life that I have the resources to give back in a more meaningful way. But what does it mean to give back? And how do I build philanthropy into my everyday life? (Just working for a nonprofit doesn’t count.)

The first step for me is to define what philanthropy means. Here are a few definitions I found:

From Merriam-Webster:
1: goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially : active effort to promote human welfare
2 a : an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes
b : an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes

From Dictionary.com:
1. altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment of institutions of learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purposes.
2. the activity of donating to such persons or purposes in this way: to devote one’s later years to philanthropy.
3. a particular act, form, or instance of this activity: The art museum was their favorite philanthropy.
4. a philanthropic organization.

From Answers.com:
1. The effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations.
2. Love of humankind in general.
3. Something, such as an activity or institution, intended to promote human welfare.

There seems to be a theme of supporting and bettering humankind. I like that these definitions don’t necessarily focus on giving money. I think philanthropy is more than money. At work, when I receive donations, I find the stronger connection the donor has to our cause, the more meaningful the donation. Oftentimes, it isn’t money that the person is giving. It’s their time or resources.

So, what does philanthropy mean to you? And how do you incorporate philanthropy in your everyday life, both personally and professionally? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Cross-posted from another jennifer
art, music, parenting, philanthropy and other musings from a working mom in brunswick, maine

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