Philanthropy is a big word. It’s a word that has many different meanings- it’s subjective, and that’s ok. But right now, philanthropy has a very objective and simplified perception- the act of giving money to someone else. Philanthropy is an industry with organizations both big and small, with consultants (like us!) and experts, just like any other sector. But in today’s world, the philanthropy industry is getting a lot more attention.
Why is there so much buzz about philanthropy? Because social responsibility has become the driver of reputation, brand authenticity and connection with generations of young people looking for impact alongside their consumption.
Philanthropy Has Multiple Meanings
But somehow with all this talk about philanthropy, we haven’t really bothered to work on shaping the perception of philanthropy. Most people associate it with giving money. Yes, grants, donations, endowment gifts, and more are all part of philanthropy. But philanthropy doesn’t have to just be the Bill Gates and Warren Buffets of the world donating billions of dollars to issues that matter.
Philanthropy is the woman who volunteers every Sunday at her local soup kitchen. Philanthropy is the guy who shows up at the local Boys and Girls club every Thursday night to play pickup basketball with his Little Brother. Philanthropy is the company who offers pro bono services to someone who may be struggling to get by. Philanthropy is even the kid who stands up for another kid at school who’s being bullied or left out. There’s more than one way to be a philanthropist and engage in philanthropy.
How Pro Athletes View Philanthropy
In an interview with the Big League Philanthropist podcast, former NFL player Dereck Faulkner defines a philanthropist as someone who is “able to identify a problem and try to help create a solution”. Dereck highlights that it doesn’t really matter how big or small the problem is, philanthropy is all about understanding the issue in front of you and working to solve it. “Philanthropy comes in all shapes and sizes,” he adds.
Former Sacramento State and international pro basketball player Haron Hargrave describes philanthropy as being able to make an impact, period. “Whether two people show up or 1000 people show up, philanthropy is about standing up and pushing for what you believe in.”
What both of these athletes turned philanthropists have hit on is the idea that any person in the world can be a philanthropist.
Anyone Can be a Philanthropist
It’s important for us to highlight all the ways that people can make a difference in the world, even if they don’t have a ton of money or influence. No matter who you are or where you live, you can make the world a better place, even just by showing up and asking “How can I help?”
How do you define philanthropy? What does the word philanthropist mean to you? If we’ve learned anything in our work in the world of social impact, it’s that there are really no wrong answers here. So what are you going to do today to make a difference?
Subscribe and tune in to the Big League Philanthropist podcast every Thursday on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to learn how athletes all over the world are making an impact in their communities.