I attended the AFP National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon today as a guest of the San Diego Padres. The Padres are a great example of a professional sports organization that recognizes how important it is to be a part of the local community. They contribute dollars and resources to many of San Diego’s important charities and provide other immeasurable support. Other sports organizations should act the same way,
What struck me the most about the event, which was well attended with over 1,000 people, was the unanimity amongst the honorees in their philosophies about philanthropy. In different ways, each stated what I feel is paramount – that philanthropy (or charity or whatever word you choose) is an obligation we owe to our society. This obligation becomes even more important in difficult financial times as now, because the resources available to support those in need are severely diminished.
I have a personal bias towards this philosophy as I grew up in a traditional Jewish household where we were taught at an early age about the importance of charity, and where we were expected to give on a daily basis. As I have grown older, and began giving time in addition to money, I’ve learned an even more important lesson. Giving feels good. It can improve your health (I’m a living testament to that) and mental outlook. And it certainly keeps you focused on the important things in life. God got it right when he established charity as an obligation.
Significantly, there are many ways to be philanthropic. One of San Diego’s all-time great philanthropists, Malin Burnham, said it well today in his message to the audience. There are three important players – those who write the checks, those who volunteer, and those who ask for the check. Neither is more important than the other. Without all three, the non-profit organizations that do such great work could not succeed.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who was able would do at least two of these tasks? I like to think that good karma comes from philanthropy, and if more people lived with charity as an obligation, we’d be in a lot better place, emotionally and economically.