What do you think of when you hear the word philanthropist? Do you think of a group of women who can trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower and get together at sophisticated luncheons to donate thousands of dollars to children’s hospitals or art museums? Maybe you think of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge, the effort that’s trying to persuade billionaires to donate half of their wealth? Wikipedia, under their “philanthropy” entry, includes a list of the largest bequests starting at 31 billion and ending at 100 million.
You might look at those numbers and think that philanthropy is reserved for those with money. You might think that if you don’t have thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions to give away that you aren’t a philanthropist. However, it is not the amount of money you give away that matters.
Merriam Webster defines a philanthropist as “one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare.” You can do that with $25 or $25,000 or $250,000. What matters is that you donate money as part of an overall philosophy and action plan of improving the world.
In the past, I often felt that my $25 donation was insignificant. The Red Cross might send me an automated Thank You note, but they’ll spend time, money, and personal attention wooing billionaires. And yet, my $25 donation is important. In fact, according to Wendy Smith, author of Give a Little, it’s people like me that account for 75% of all charitable giving.
A little adds up to a lot, so keep donating your $25 and be a philanthropist. It matters.
At Change Gangs, each of our members is a philanthropist who pools their $25 donation with a bunch of other philanthropists around whatever cause he/she cares about most. Then the group chooses where to donate the collected funds. Instead of sending a $25 check to your favorite charity, you could be part of a group that sends a check for thousands of dollars to that charity.
Now that might be something the Red Cross will pay attention to!