What does it mean to be Philanthropic? Philanthropy is a noun that the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the “love of mankind” and “the disposition or active effort to promote the happiness and well being of others.” In our current society, the word philanthropic tends to be an interchangeable term with entrepreneurial. As those who are seen as philanthropic tend to be those individuals who are financially involved with an organization promoting effort to help those in need.
This current view on philanthropy by society is harmful in the way that it seems to prevent, or even stigmatize, philanthropic efforts on the small scale. These small-scale efforts can be seen as insignificant and unrealistic by a public assuming that only grandiose donations from entrepreneurial individuals can make a difference, which is a major factor for why many people do not get involved with social problems.
Philanthropy at its core is having a love for humanity, and there are many ways for people to become involved. Individual efforts over long periods of time can be as effective, if not more so, as a grand one-time financial gesture. While an entrepreneurial spirit can help with the sustainability of a philanthropic organization, they should not rely solely on financial gain. This would defeat the purpose of trying to make positive change.
Other than participating financially, volunteering time and effort to a philanthropic cause can make a difference in helping create positive change.
So as philanthropy exists to benefit others, it should be no surprise that participating in these efforts can help create a personal benefit and fulfillment within the individual. In recent studies regarding volunteer work and its physical benefits, the results showed a 22 percent reduction in mortality of the volunteer work participants. It has been proven that when an individual is involved with the helping of their fellow man, the reward center in the brain that produces the neurotransmitter dopamine creates a feeling of fulfillment and greater happiness, or a “helper’s high.” In addition, there are many other benefits to an individual volunteering within philanthropic organizations, such as better pain management and lower blood pressure.
To be philanthropic is to express love for all of mankind and to help in any way. While the majority of individuals choose to participate financially, it is important to realize that not all philanthropic ventures need this. Choosing to volunteer can help these philanthropic organizations continue to make a positive change within our society.
– Alysha Biemolt
Sources: Oxford English Dictionary, Inc., Huffington Post
Photo: Blake Rubin