What is Philanthropy and Where Has It Gone?
Philanthropy is defined in the dictionary as a “desire to benefit humanity.” The dictionary goes on to state that “this is a desire to improve the material, social, and spiritual welfare of humanity, especially through charitable activities.” These charitable activities include the voluntary provision of money, materials, or help to people in need. I am sure everyone can agree that “philanthropy” is a good thing. If so, why do we stumble when it comes to philanthropy as compared to our neighboring counties.
In Solano County, a recent study has shown that per person, we give less than $3 per year. This is the lowest per person philanthropy in the region amongst all our neighbors. Why? Maybe we have simply forgotten the old adage that is better to give than to receive. Maybe each of us as individuals believes we are doing our part and giving our fair share. Based upon the study, we need to admit that some of us are not doing our fair share and could do more.
Many of us grew up in working class families and it was expected that you volunteer your time and give to the less fortunate. We all were taught to rely upon the community to help those in need. We gave to causes, to churches, to charities, to anyone in need. The general rule in the past was that you give at least 15% of your income to “benefit humanity”. Now we buy big screen TVs, SUVs, and McMansions with our extra money that we are so fortunate to acquire. We simply do not give as much as we used to. Why?
It may be as simple as we do not think about, or don’t have time for “philanthropy.” We often do not slow down enough in our fast-paced world to think about such things as “philanthropy.” We are busy working, raising families, helping our parents, enjoying or planning for our own retirement. There are many organizations competing for the dollar and we simply do not have time to take the calls, read the flyers, or even write the checks. If we look really deep inside, we may simply have forgotten that there are many within our own community who really need our help and forget our own good fortune. Our hearts may contain the “philanthropic” beliefs; we just need to act on our beliefs. Please take time to “improve the material, social, and spiritual welfare of humanity, especially through charitable activities.” You never know, you may need help some day. More importantly, you know it is the right thing to do. Be a “philanthropist!”