Look up the translation of philanthropy in the dictionary and you’ll find it essentially means a love of mankind, or a desire to enhance mankind’s well-being.
While modern usage of the word conjures up images of wealthy people donating large amounts of money to a cause they believe in and support, the essence of philanthropy is giving back to one’s community, through deeds or donations.
“Philanthropy often has this big multi-million dollar definition assigned to it,” admits Jessica Bell, chair of National Philanthropy Day, to be celebrated with workshops and an awards ceremony Nov. 16 at the Victoria Conference Centre.
“It can be as small as the lemonade stand or bake sale, but it is also really about the big picture, too.”
There are definitely times when people giving back choose to do so under the radar, without public knowledge. But ultimately, philanthropic efforts involve a collaboration between people to create a bigger impact, Bell says.
And that can involve young people right up to those who are nearing the end of life.
Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson points out that our region, which lists about 1,000 registered charities, stands out as being very generous for its size. It shows that people here really “get” the impact charities have on the overall wellness of the community.
“And National Philanthropy Day is important because it takes time to recognize those donors, corporations, individuals, right down to school-age children,” she says.
A scan of NPD recognition categories and the nominated finalists within those gives a good indication of the wide range of ways people are giving back.
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy award (age five to 10) nominee Andrej Marti, age 8, was diagnosed at five with Type 1 diabetes, but quickly became inspired to help children and families in his situation. He began raising funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and Help Fill a Dream and has so far raised approximately $10,000.
Other individuals and youth groups, including Neighbourhood Blues food pickup program founder Diya Courty-Stephens, Royal Oak Youth in Acton and the Saanich Braves hockey team – all also award nominees – have shown that age need not be a barrier to giving back.
Local companies like Coast Capital Savings, The Wilson’s Group and Heirloom Linens have spearheaded fundraising campaigns, while individuals like Jack Boomer, Robert Noble and Sheri and Mike Corrigan have done their part to help raise cash for various groups and community interests.
And of course, the financially generous philanthropic efforts of people like Andrew Beckerman and the Sisters of St. Ann have gone a long way to creating significant change for the better in our communities.
“It just shows that whether you are a child or an adult or are in your final days, there are always ways you can demonstrate your love of mankind,” Bell says. “Philanthropy really is the cornerstone of building strong communities.”
The awards event runs from 4 to 6:30 p.m. You can find more information and purchase tickets here, up until 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12.