The Kelley House relies on philanthropists. Not the Daddy Warbucks variety with the signature cigar and sacks of money but the dedicated, resourceful, and unfailingly generous philanthropists that support our mission, contribute to our annual appeal, and serve as volunteers. When you hear the word philanthropy, what comes to mind? Wealthy individuals, prominent foundations, and corporations? What about a person with modest means – can they also be a philanthropist? Philanthropy is something that anyone can participate in no matter your age, income, or location. Modern-day philanthropy is about so much more than giving money. 

A woman with a box saying "Thank You!" on it holding a sign asking for donations

Sandra Hahn collecting donations for a program of Israeli Dancing for Peace at the Mendocino Peace Fair, June 29 – July 4, 1966.

Perhaps you believe that to be philanthropic, you need to have deep pockets and give large amounts of money to the causes that are meaningful to you. Of course, many foundations, individuals, and corporations do just that, and their large gifts can make significant impacts. But you don’t have to be in the 1% to make a substantial contribution. By definition, a philanthropist is a person who donates time, money, experience, skills, or talent to help support the causes and organizations that they believe in. 

Not sure how to get started? To become a philanthropist, first determine what you’re most passionate about. How do you spend your leisure time, what are your interests? What groups do you feel drawn to, and what work or services do they provide? Once you identify what matters most to you, you can find groups or organizations that support your interests. Philanthropy is about more than giving money, it is also about fostering community by bringing people together.

Being a philanthropist is also about being creative with how and what you give.

You can donate your time, your money, your voice, or a combination of all three. For example, if you are enthusiastic about animals but have limited resources, your philanthropy can look like volunteering your time to the local humane society. You could increase your support by posting on social media about shelter activities and fundraising events. Suppose you would also like to make a financial contribution? In that case, you could set aside coffee money twice a week and accrue a quarterly donation that you feel good about that doesn’t put a significant dent in your budget or lifestyle.

Philanthropy is not something just for the wealthy, and it is not one size fits all. Many people volunteer without considering how valuable their donated time is to an organization. Without this essential donation, many nonprofits would be unable to keep their doors open. Your donated time as a volunteer makes you a generous philanthropist! 

Your reach as a philanthropist can extend beyond the places where you volunteer and give money. By sharing your passion with others, you can inspire people to become supporters in their own right. When you bring in others to share your good works, you create community and increase your influence for the greater good – that’s philanthropy! Philanthropy at its root means the love of humankind. The Kelley House wants to thank everyone for the generous philanthropists that allow us to keep our doors open and continue our mission. Be your own Daddy Warbucks, donate your time, voice, and money to the things that matter to you, and become a modern-day philanthropist!