The trials of this year have shown us just how strong our communities are in the face of hardship and tragedy. Through horrific wildfires, a global pandemic and economic downturn, our region has risen to the challenge, responding with a fierce strength and generosity that gives hope to our collective future. As we celebrate National Philanthropy Month this November, we are reminded about the power of people — both passionate individuals contributing to causes, as well as nonprofit leaders caring for community members. The Greek root of the word “philanthropy” stems from the words “love” and “friend” – and every time you show a love of humanity, you serve as a philanthropist.
We can think of no one who exemplifies this possession and promotion of goodwill more than our nonprofit leaders in this region. These individuals have been on the front lines, diligently providing the desperately needed care, support and resources our communities need most. Even in normal times, our nonprofits have always provided a steady stream of care, filling in the gaps which people might slip through. When we think of nonprofits exemplifying the definition of philanthropy, we are reminded of local organizations that provided informational resources, PPE and emergency assistance to small businesses, individuals and marginalized communities. We are reminded of community groups that stepped up after a devastating wildfire season to give clothing, food and a place for displaced families to sleep.
We are also inspired by the mutually supportive relationship between community nonprofits and individual donors. Nonprofit staff members work hard to respond to pressing issues in our community every day. They rely on direct support from the community to provide these services. It’s a commonly held belief that donations from corporations, foundations and government grants support the financial operations of community nonprofits. However, it’s actually the generosity of individuals making the biggest impact — nearly 80 percent of all charitable gifts to nonprofits come from individuals like you.
Due to increased community need and decreased funding resulting from canceled fundraisers and annual events, individual giving is more important than ever this year. Many of us are already planning ahead for the holidays, selecting the perfect gifts for the people we care about. This November, we can all give back to our community in an impactful way by supporting a local nonprofit. Your support might include a monetary donation, volunteering time or talents, or inspiring family and friends to support their favorite nonprofits. Generosity benefits nonprofits and community members, but generous acts also benefit you. Scientific studies have shown that donating and volunteering can increase self-esteem, lower stress and even lengthen life spans!
Join us in committing to generosity and love by considering a donation in National Philanthropy Month or on #GivingTuesday (Dec. 1), the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, to an organization of your choice. #GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. We all have gifts to give – through social media, online giving, delivery options, mail and phones, there are limitless ways to use your generosity to support others.
Erin Sellers is an Innovia Foundation Fellow and a senior at Gonzaga University