On November 15th, we celebrated National Philanthropy Day, a special day to recognize the wonderful philanthropic efforts that are carried out across the country every day, all year long.
Philanthropy in Canada is vibrant. We are in tune with a deeply held value expressed through giving and volunteering to causes that speak to our hearts, our values and our goals. We first marked National Philanthropy Day in 1986 and it has now grown to include more than 100 events involving over 50,000 people across North America.
I am a proud member, active volunteer and donor with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and I count myself among their over 30,000 members who truly believe in the power of giving. As the main sponsor of National Philanthropy Day, AFP assists its 230 chapters across North America and around the world to host events that provide a forum for recognition and discussion. These events are featured on www.npdlove.com where you will also find a gallery of outstanding philanthropists, volunteers, corporations, foundations and others involved in the charitable process. I quite enjoyed learning the stories of AFP International’s award winners this year. In particular, Kinsey Morrison’s story struck me. At only 18 years old, Kinsey has used her own health issues as fuel to rally others to important causes resulting in over $600,000 being raised for mainly health-related causes. As a young philanthropist, she also volunteers her time in incredible ways. What a true inspiration she is to others her age and to those who are overcoming adversity and want to make a difference. You can read her story on the website which is regularly being updated with philanthropic history facts, famous quotes about giving and tips to help people give wisely.
The driving forces behind our own giving may vary, but a recent study revealed that most humans are naturally wired to want to give. We find that Canadians give their time and their money to causes that help build the society that they wish to live in. As fundraisers, we are practitioners in ethics. We help people connect their resources with causes of interest and need and we always hold high our role as stewards of the public’s trust and contributions.
AFP’s National Philanthropy Day helps us consider what philanthropy means to each of us and allows us to open the conversation up to others. What stories do you connect with most? Do you know anyone who has benefited from the generosity of others? Have you helped your children learn that they can make a difference? Philanthropy is so powerful and inspiring because it is voluntary – we come together to improve the quality of life for all.
Whether you are giving small or large donations, you are helping to achieve monumental triumphs. Clothing and housing people in need, investing in early childhood education, protecting green space, supporting student bursaries, redeveloping our hospitals, and providing quality health care are all made possible every day because of you and your commitment to your favourite causes.
Likewise, donating your time and expertise is equally as vital. Volunteers are essential to the fabric of our communities. As partners, volunteers help to fundraise and generate revenue, participate as board members to govern our organizations and contribute to the daily needs of busy programs.
You are invited to join in the celebration of Philanthropy every day. It starts with you. Tweet about a kind act, share a memorable volunteer experience with a colleague, call your favourite volunteer and express appreciation and celebrate that we live in a vibrant country with people who are helping to make our community a healthier and safer place to live and work. Your involvement, whether it's mentoring, volunteering or giving, makes philanthropy possible, special and meaningful every day.
We can change the world with a giving heart.
Roger D. Ali is Chair-elect (volunteer) for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Foundation for Philanthropy Canada, President (volunteer) for the AFP Golden Horseshoe Chapter and Vice-President, Development, Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation.