When you think of a philanthropist, who comes to your mind? Do you think of the wealthy executive giving away billions of dollars from his or her foundation each year? Do you think of a specific person in your life? If you think like me, then philanthropy makes you think of money; however, philanthropy is not just about giving money. In fact, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of philanthropy money isn’t even mentioned directly. The definition of philanthropy is 1) goodwill to fellow members of the human race especially active efforts to promote human welfare 2) an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes.
In her book “How to be an Everyday Philanthropist,” Nicole Bouchard Boles said a “philanthropist tries to make a difference with whatever riches he or she possesses.” Because most of us do not have billions of dollars to donate we may think we don’t have much to offer, but we do! In her book, Nicole Bouchard Boles goes through everyday ways all of us can makes a difference with what we have. Below are some of the simple ideas she provides for individuals or families to use to benefit the goodwill of others.
Use your body
• Give blood.
• Donate your hair to an organization that makes wigs.
• Use your legs to participate in walks or runs to raise money for causes you want to support.
• Volunteer to hold babies at a local hospital or church nursery.
Use your family
• Foster a dog or cat.
• Makes cards for children’s hospitals, nursing homes or military personnel.
Use your computer
• Sign a petition for a cause you are passionate about.
• Use social media to raise money for a cause.
Use your talents
• Do pro bono work for an organization or family in need.
• Sew or knit hats and mittens for hospitals or homeless shelters.
• Volunteer to coach a youth sport.
Use your belongings
• Donate unneeded clothing to a local clothing closet or nonprofit.
• Donate books to a local library, shelter or school.
• Bring your old blankets and towels to a local animal shelter.
Use your time
• Volunteer as a poll worker on Election Day.
• Commit to volunteer regularly at a local food pantry or soup kitchen.
• Be a mentor to a family or child.
Use your community
• Start a neighborhood watch.
• Plant a community garden.
Use your decisions
• Buy cruelty-free products.
• Use reusable bags when grocery shopping.
Use your financial resources
• Leave a legacy by setting up an endowment.
• Join a giving circle.
• Donate funds to a local organization.
• Adopt a family at Christmas and provide them with food and gifts.
“How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist” is an easy read that can provide everyday ideas for your family to be philanthropic, and I highly suggest giving it a look. While Bouchard Boles book mainly focuses on national organizations, many of her principles can be used locally with organizations serving Grundy County. We at the Community Foundation of Grundy County are always willing to chat about which local organizations match your interests and connect you with them. Everyone has something to offer to others; find your something.
• Devan Gagliardo is program director for the Community Foundation of Grundy County.