15 November 2011


I have often encountered blank stares when I tell people what I studied in grad school (Philanthropy & Nonprofit Development). Sometimes the stare is followed by the question, "What is that?"

phi·lan·thro·py [fi-lan-thruh-pee]
noun, plural -pies.
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.
Origin: from Late Latin philanthrōpia, from Greek: love of mankind, from philos loving + anthrōpos man
(Definition courtesy of dictionary.com)

What is philanthropy? For me, it's just a natural part of who I am and I can thank my parents for that. They created a culture of philanthropy in our home ... whether they realized it or not. For them, it was about serving others and recognizing those needs that we had the capacity to meet. In my profession, people often consider philanthropists to be those individuals with significant monetary resources who share their finances in support of specific causes and nonprofit organizations. From the definition above, you can see that philanthropy encompasses more than money.

National Philanthropy Day is November 15, which is why I chose to post this today. I was honored to be able to help plan a National Philanthropy Day awards celebration, hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Northeast Iowa Chapter. We focused on the "gifts of the heart" and many people were honored for their investment in our community. Awards were bestowed in four categories: Philanthropy, Governance, Legacy, and Youth. (You can read more about that at www.afpneia.org.)

Today, I'd like to recognize my parents for their giving hearts. As a child I didn't always appreciate their acts of service, their philanthropic projects. But, I know that because of them, compassion is one of my core values. Their influence and example made me want to become a philanthropist. It also led me to a career in the nonprofit sector. I believe that my own children are learning the importance of philanthropy and its significant impact on the people whose lives they touch, as well as on the fabric of society. 

Thank you, Mom and Dad. Your influence continues in my philanthropic efforts and continues to grow through the actions of your grandchildren. Because of you...

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If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!

If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!