Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Philosophy on Philanthropy

Right now, I am finishing up the last three courses I need to graduate from Georgian College's Fundraising & Resource Development program.  One of the courses that I am taking right now is called Professional Practice and I absolutely love it!  Having experience as a Board of Director previously, I am finding this course quite useful and I am able to make some useful connections between the teachings and what I've learned first-hand.  Recently, we were asked to provide some thoughts about our philiosophy on philanthropy.  This is the first time that I've ever been asked to think about what philanthropy means.  Here are my thoughts:

1.  How do you define philanthropy? 
I would define philanthropy as an act of giving time to a cause, advocating for a cause, making financial donations when possible and feeling a deeper desire to help create positive social change.  Philanthropy is also an act that includes ethics, accountability and transparency.  When these three values are included in philanthropy, then a community can become mobilized to truly create positive social change. 

2.  If you were to describe a philanthropist, what would that description entail? 
To me a philanthropist is someone who donates time to a cause.  Time can definitely be more valuable than money; it is our life.  A philanthropist is someone who also acts as an advocate.  Through advocacy, a philanthropist can mobilize a community to help fill a gap.  A philanthropist is someone who makes financial donations, relative to their means and whenever the time is right.  A philanthropist is someone who is committed to making the world a better place for everyone and everything (there are other living species other than humans and they need respect/love/acknowledgement/help too).   A philanthropist is someone who leads by example, who truly aligns themselves with the values of a nonprofit organization that they have chosen to support and who is, essentially, a change-maker.  People are very likely to look up to a philanthropist and respect them for their contributions to the community.  A philanthropist has enless opportunities to make people think more about/do more with a nonprofit. 

3.  While still in its infancy in Canada, fundraising is now considered a profession. Do you agree or disagree? What evidence do you see emerging that can substantiate this statement? 

I agree that fundraising is a profession.  I know that from job postings, fundraisers need to have specific skills in order to get interviews.  There is also the Fundraising and Resource Development program to take into consideration.  In addition, there are Masters Degrees in Philanthropy.  Not only do I feel that fundraising is a profession, but it is something that us professionals should work to keep ourselves educated about.  We should increase our exposure to the knowledge/experience of others in the field, no matter how old/young we are.  Read books and challenge yourself to become a successful change-maker in your lifetime! 

Thank you for reading my post!  Please comment on this posting and share your own philosophy on philanthropy!  Is there anything you can add to these ideas?