Philanthropy was a word my colleague had never heard before. She didn’t know how to say it. It’s a long word with four syllables. It’s not a word we use every day or even very often.

In my field, we use: development, advancement, or fundraising. Yet, all of these titles and descriptions describe working with philanthropists, which is “a person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, especially by the generous donation of money to good causes,” described by the Oxford English dictionary.

If we do hear this word it is usually associated with Bill and Melinda Gates or Warren Buffet. The description in the dictionary says nothing about millions of dollars. It begs the question: shouldn’t anyone who gives to charity in some way be described as a philanthropist? It’s a commitment to humanity. It’s altruistic—going above and beyond ourselves. THIS, this, is what the world needs.

Eighty percent of donations come from twenty percent of people. Does that mean we shouldn’t give? Does that mean we don’t matter? My philanthropic impact on the world matters!

If it brings one family food for a day, it matters. If it brings one person an education scholarship, it matters. If it gives a child a positive experience with a physical illness—you bet it matters. Furthermore, it’s selfish! I feel good when I give. I feel good when I see lives changed. I change, too. I think less of myself. I feel uplifted that I can make a difference in the world. No act of charity should go unnoticed, unrecognized, or under-appreciated. All acts of charity should be celebrated.

Do you think we should re-define a philanthropist? Would you consider calling yourself a philanthropist? It’s not for just for the wealthiest one percent. The title of philanthropist should be for everyone committed to enhancing the world we live in.

Finding a way to give back in a way that is meaningful will bring more excitement and passion for positive change. Here’s what I’m most interested in making an impact: mental health, poverty alleviation, and education. What areas do you want to be a philanthropist in?

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