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let's talk: what is philanthropy?

I have built a career around this, yet I have found that not everyone is entirely clear on what exactly philanthropy is. Quite simply, philanthropy is defined as the love of humankind – or another one of my favourite definitions is that

philanthropy is a practical manifestation of the human instinct to help others.

My earliest memory of philanthropy

came from my grandfather – he gave so selflessly in so many ways. For years he supported the LabreHouse – a shelter and soup kitchen. He encouraged his employees to not only prepare meals, but also to serve the community. By the time I was 6 years old, he was bringing me down to help serve the meals his group would prepare. While I couldn’t fully comprehend volunteerism and poverty at that age, he was gentle in his way of teaching us about giving back and it stuck.

Of course, I never knew then that I would make a career out of. I eventually fell into working within the charitable sector and for the past ten years, I have been working in Philanthropy. Throughout my career, I have found that when people think of giving back, they equate that with having to write a cheque. When you hear the term ‘philanthropist’ it’s usually a wealthy individual – and I’m not into that kind of word association.

Going back to the actual definition, it’s about helping others. Whether that’s through time (volunteering your time), talent (using your expertise, reputation, relationships, etc) or treasure (financial support, in-kind donations, gift of stocks, bequests etc), its about doing what you can when you can - when you give selflessly to something without any expectation in return, that is philanthropy. That means that most of us are philanthropists, most of us care and most of us want to make this place better than how we found it.

So don’t be intimated by the word philanthropy, embrace it. My goal with this space is to encourage others to embrace the idea of giving back, to help someone out, to make an impact in a way that feels natural and hopeful.


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