Philanthropy is as old as humanity itself. Our existence and survival as civilized beings have always hinged on our ability to help each other out and to lean on each other in the face of adversity. Throughout the centuries, humans have always recognized the fact that their destinies are intertwined, and that there was no benefit to building oneself up if the rest of society doesn’t come along. The principles of philanthropy are enshrined in every religion known to man, and anthropologists have also observed philanthropic tendencies in higher animals. In other words, it is in our nature to be philanthropic.
Some may argue that altruism conflicts with the capitalist nature of our most advanced societies, and that being philanthropic is akin to acting against one’s own best interests. However contrary to this notion, many people and entities have found that their participation in philanthropic initiatives ends up benefiting them in one way or the other. Many philanthropists have reported living happier and more fulfilled lives. Businesses that take part in philanthropic initiatives have found that it gives them a better standing in the community, and with their customers.
There are many reasons why philanthropy is important. However, the best argument for philanthropy is posterity. If for nothing else, philanthropy should be done in service of future generations. Whether it’s protecting the environment, preserving wildlife, combating disease, ending hunger, reducing poverty, or increasing literacy, philanthropy is meant to make the future a little better for everyone. If you love wild animals, you should try to preserve their species so that your grandchildren are able to enjoy seeing them as much as you do. Protecting the environment will ensure that future generations enjoy the same clean air, pure water, and sustainable agriculture that we do. Many philanthropists hope to see the fruits of their labour, but in some instances, the ripple effect of their work is manifested years or even decades later.
It is said that philanthropy begins where government services end. The fact that the government allocates funds for things like wildlife preservation, environmental protection, and other social programs, doesn’t mean that those funds are adequate. Even the best of governments will have their limitations when it comes to allocation of funds. There are so many interests competing for government funding, and something important will always be overlooked or given low priority. It is up to philanthropists to fill that funding gap.
Many people assume that you have to be rich to be a philanthropist. However, the fact is that philanthropy is more than just writing a check, and it is not the preserve of the rich. You should think of philanthropy as giving one’s resources for the benefit of others. Your resource could be your money, your time, or even your expertise in certain areas. In philanthropy, there is no such thing as too small a contribution. Find a course that you care about, and try to support it however you can. Remember that every single drop is needed to fill the bucket.
In this complex and uncertain times, it is no longer enough to count on the government, NGOs, and a handful of rich people to sufficiently handle all the courses that we care about. Philanthropy associations and networks are more vital than ever, and you should try to support them however you can. We owe it to ourselves to make this world a better place, and a little philanthropy will go a long way to accomplish that objective.