Not all that long ago it was a word that I hadn’t heard of. A word that I couldn’t really pronounce. And now it’s probably one of my favourites. What it stands for. What it represents. Even the way it rolls off the tongue.
Philanthropy is the love of mankind. It’s giving back to the community. It’s doing the right thing for others just because you can. For me, it’s a passion and a way of life. And I don’t necessarily mean I’m a philanthropist, but I find inspiration in others’ philanthropy and hope to encourage more.
Over the years, Australia has had some notable philanthropists including Mr Sidney Myer, Sir Ian Potter and Dame Elizabeth Murdoch. Yet we’re still a long way behind other places like the US. Americans have a stronger culture of giving. It is somewhat an expectation in society and is discussed very openly. There is a lot we Aussies can learn. Australian philanthropists of the 21st century have it tough. As a group, they are criticised for not financially contributing to society, yet when an individual does and goes public with it they are criticised for being ‘too showy’. The all-too-common tall poppy syndrome rearing its ugly head again.
When businessman Andrew Forrest became the first Australian to join Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge, while a few media articles talked about it as a positive, much of the coverage was attacking Mr Forrest, saying he shouldn’t boast about such things or suggesting it still isn’t enough.
How about saying, ‘Thank you, Mr Forrest, for being generous and considering your fellow humans with this pledge’? I think it’s fabulous when philanthropists share news of their giving as it helps bring the topic to light and initiates discussion among the wider community. Another Australian philanthropist, Neil Balnaves AO, said it best in Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine:
“The reason we are open about our giving is because I think there needs to be more examples of major donors to encourage others to do it. Philanthropy shouldn’t be hid in the cupboard or kept under the table – it needs to be much more visible.”
Isn’t it high time, Australia, that we start praising those that endeavour to give back to our community, rather than condemn them. Isn’t it time we started being grateful instead of ‘hateful’. Maybe then, this will encourage more giving from all walks of life. Because anyone can be a philanthropist. Let’s build a community full of them.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.
P.S As some of you may have noticed it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. My sincere apologies, it’s only sheer volume of work that has kept me away. I’d write all day long if I could. Thanks for staying ‘afloat’ until my return. I’m hoping the posts will become semi-regular again now. 🙂