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Finding the Philanthropist Within

What is your definition of a “philanthropist?” Do you conjure up thoughts of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, billionaires committed to changing healthcare and poverty globally? Do you think of men like Rockefeller or Carnegie, industrialists who made so much money that it still goes to work today? How about the wife of McDonald’s legend Ray Kroc who left millions upon millions in her estate to benefit education and other charities?

Do you ever think of the plumber who lives across the street? How about your mailman? Your hairdresser? Yourself?

WordNet defines “philanthropist” as someone who makes charitable donations intended to increase human well-being. The American Heritage Dictionary has a similar definition: The effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations. Note: Neither definition describes how much one has to give to be considered a philanthropist. My favorite description is “the love of humankind in general.”

Anyone can be a philanthropist. It simply means you give to help others, primarily because it is the right thing to do.  You give because you care, not because you expect something back in return other than the satisfaction of knowing you are doing the right thing.

The Circle of Sisterhood Foundation is grateful to all of the philanthropists (you are more than just a donor!) that have made a choice to help girls and women get an education and gain an opportunity to escape a life of poverty and oppression.  Some give a lot. Some give a little.  The amount is not as important as that they simply give.  And Circle of Sisterhood philanthropists give in a wide variety of ways.

Take for example our own leader, Ginny Carroll’s recent 50 for 50 campaign in which she asked her friends to give $50 in honor of her 50th birthday.  In just a matter of days, Ginny raised $3,075 from her friends and family. Each one of these donors is a philanthropist. They gave because she asked.  And they gave because they cared.

Similarly, friends responded when Sue Kraft Fussell conducted a Virtual Marathon for her own milestone birthday. Her generous friends donated money…and she never even ran a step!  Each person gave at a level that was meaningful to her and suddenly, the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation was the beneficiary of $3,865.

Hilary Cessna’s has launched her own philanthropic journey on Crowdrise. She shares what motivates her to not only give but to also ask for others to join her in her effort to raise $1,000.  She states:

“It is now our turn to rise up and give a voice to the voiceless. There is so much devastation happening in the world to women and girls. Regardless of where were born, where we went to college or what organization we affiliated with, we are one sisterhood. A sisterhood of women. It is now our turn to stand as one and unite for the rights of women and girls everywhere.”

Now, that is a wonderful philanthropic spirit!

Our collegiate sisters are learning about giving every day on our college campuses.  These women are recognizing the incredible feeling of what giving provides. Take just a few examples:  there is a Dance Marathon at UC San Diego, Miami University’s Panhellenic trip to see Wicked, the Circle of Sisterhood week of awareness activities at the University of Southern Florida.  Every week there are new posts on the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation’s Facebook page of clever fundraisers that allow students to become philanthropists.

We have been blessed in this country to have the right to work, get an education, vote, travel by ourselves, drive, select a spouse, make decisions about our own bodies and so much more. We also know that many women around the world are not afforded these same rights.  We can each become a philanthropist and help make change.   Every gift, regardless of size, makes a difference.  When we pool our resources and provide grants to schools or nongovernmental organizations, we are opening doors for women to have a chance.  We are giving to help the well-being of others.  That’s what it means to be a philanthropist.  That’s what happens when you choose to donate to the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation.

As we close 2011 this week, I invite you to become a philanthropist yourself.  Make a donation to the Circle of Sisterhood because of your love for humankind.  I guarantee you will feel proud of what you have achieved.  And somewhere out there, a young girl will thank you.

Learn how you can support the Circle of Sisterhood at www.circleofsisterhood.org/donate.

Bethany is inspired by the Circle of Sisterhood in order to teach her young niece about philanthropy and Greek letter organizations--a philanthropist in the making!

This post was written by Bethany Deines,  Director of Annual Gifts at Children’s Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. Deines is a volunteer for the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation and a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma National Sorority.

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