The power of philanthropy certainly is evident through major gifts to nonprofit organizations, but its potential can also be understood through simple, daily deeds of generosity. The Power of Philanthropy TM blog was inspired by just such an act.
Working from our local library one weekend, I noticed a man heading toward the water fountain. With a backpack slung over his shoulder and a bedroll tucked under his arm, it seemed clear he’d spent time on the streets.
He strode with purpose toward the fountain but was sorely disappointed to find that it was not in working order. The look on his face was more than disappointment. It was nothing less than dejection.
At the same moment, a young man hopped up from a chair where he was reading, moved quickly to the fountain, handed the thirsty man an unopened bottle of water and returned to his seat. It all happened quickly, but what I saw made a deep impression and stayed with me.
Looking a little in shock, the man took a long gulp of the cool water, gave a wave to his generous benefactor and headed back to the street.
What had I just witnessed? What were the thoughts and emotions stirring inside me?
As tempted as I was to dive back into my work, I’m thankful I let the feelings settle in.
In the following days, I struggled to find the words to describe what I had seen and felt that afternoon in the library. I knew it held deep meaning and was something I wanted to translate into the work we do as fundraisers.
Ultimately, I came to describe it as the power of philanthropy: a spark of life that comes when a person in need is met by another whose generous gift is given in sincerity and with meaning. More than water, the young man had given something of himself: his awareness, empathy and action. He hadn’t just thought about giving; he stood up and did something.
Financial gifts are extremely important, but every act of generosity makes a difference. Often, small gifts take on disproportionately large meaning because of the personal nature of the sacrifice required.
This is the power of philanthropy.
Do you have a story to share about how the power of philanthropy has impacted your life? Please let us know at email@example.com.