Family Philanthropy: It’s Personal

Recently, I read a story in the paper that reminded me of how uniquely and wonderfully personal philanthropy can be.  It was about a local woman — a loyal Boston Bruins fan — who won the Boston Bruins Foundation’s 50/50 raffle at a Stanley Cup playoff game and donated her winnings to the Red Cross for tornado relief in western Massachusetts (read the full article).

This is an example of how, when you hear a need, something inside your head or your heart responds to that need, and you are moved to give. From a small gift of spare change in a collection tin outside the supermarket to the million dollar gifts you read about in the newspapers, charitable giving is at its root a personal act.

The etymology of the word philanthropy literally means “the love of humanity.” Professionals in the philanthropic field often write about “strategic giving” and donors are asked to “do more than give.” While there is most certainly significant merit in big picture, strategic, well-researched gifts (who wants to make an “un-strategic” gift?), stories like the one about the generous Bruins fan remind me of the true meaning of philanthropy and how the power of the individual, through one single act, can make a difference in the life of another.

Let’s not give up on the love of humanity in the rush for metrics, logic models and benchmarks.

Gioia Perugini

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