Writing this article was not my idea. A good friend, herself a social philanthropist and non-profit practitioner, suggested that I explore this very important issue. As I was researching this article, my enthusiasm for this subject grew and never abetted. Done well and consistently, philanthropy can be a useful tool one can leverage to effect meaningful changes in our distressed communities.
The field of philanthropy has recently taken on a lot space in our dialogues about ways to build better communities and construct the sort of social infrastructure necessary for the poor and working poor to flourish. The November 19 issue of The Christian Science Monitor is a good example of how new philanthropic ideas are being incubated and new projects are being designed to bolster or strengthen the field of philanthropy.
The book on philanthropy has been a collective one – an anthology, for sure. Every community, every country, every people have written a chapter that reflects its own ethic of philanthropy, its own model for a sustainable philanthropy.
We are for sure communities of philanthropists and compassionists. Philanthropy has come in all shape and form in our communities.
Those who march for social justice, take part in any fundraising activity by one of our non-profits, mentor a child, volunteer as a board member for a non-profit, donate cash for a good cause are all philanthropists. Reinforcing the civic safety nets of our communities is the paramount objective.
The goal, indeed, is how to consistently incorporate or practice philanthropy in our individual lives. Our people living in different communities in our Diaspora, battered by recession and gobsmacked by a system not too crazy about social mobility, may also have the blessing of a community with a sizable number of smart, talented and overachieving individuals who are willing to give back.
The challenge, therefore, is to find ways to link these two segments within our communities: poor children in need of a mentor, non-profits that may benefit from the expertise of a development/fundraising specialist, a school in need of a good PTA president, etc.
Economic affluence has a way not to trickle down to every member of our communities. Non-profits play a major role in these communities by being a lifeline to anyone drowning in this deep blue sea of inequalities. Non-profits need every bit of our assistance.
What do we do about struggling school-children whose single mothers may be ill-equipped to deal with a public or charter school that emphasizes participation and utmost attention to the child’s schoolwork? Advocacy by the community for a school system that leaves no one behind has never been more important.
The ideal mechanism to ensure that our communities practice soft or hard altruism would have been a grant that would hire staff to civically engage our communities. Absent this tool, then the next best thing is for all of us to rise to this challenge and multiply these small or big acts of philanthropy for the benefit of the less fortunate among us. What matters the most here is the civic health of our communities.
December is here already. Christmas and the New Year will hit us in about two and three weeks. This is a great time to give. Once you read this article, this is what I would suggest you do next:
1) Give a donation to a neighbor in need, and buy one or two gifts for his/her children, or
2) Locate a non-profit and drop-off a gift for a child or an adolescent, or
3) Make a donation to a non-profit
I am encouraging you to be a Good Samaritan to someone in these times of need and gift giving. Let us create this unbreakable chain of civic virtue in our communities. Simply put, let us have each other’s back.