Those who know me even the slightest bit (i.e. we had a conversation at a networking event/course/class/randomly on the street) know that I am passionate about supporting the communities that I either live in, work in, am somehow connected to, or was born in. Sometimes this commitment to my communities can cost a fair chunk of change (i.e. if there is a fundraiser or special event). Most times though, it doesn’t cost any more than what I already had allocated for myself that day or trip (i.e. buying local, sharing content or showing support).

Admittedly, I don’t make enough money that I can freely dispose of some of it as much as I want to, even with two jobs. Youth Beyond Enterprises is my passion project and anything that goes into it or any initiatives I decide to support in it’s name, is all done out of my pocket. I receive no government funding or donations, though they would help considerably in the way of promoting the site across Canada and making the upgrades I want! I absolutely love what I get to do using my various roles and platforms to champion various causes and organizations near & dear to me, and I (more often than not) wouldn’t trade what I do for anything (except for advancement purposes).

When I think of the word “philanthropist”, my nerdy mind always flashes over to characters and people like Arlene Dickinson, Tony Stark, Bill & Melinda Gates, and even Lex Luthor. People with a lot of money to invest in projects and causes that they are either passionate about or believe in. Not the Rachael Tracey’s of the world who donate money that they might not necessarily have to spend but believe in the cause too much to close the wallet and time that already has a lot of constraints on it as it is. So, here I am, the Broke Philanthropist!

But what does being a “philanthropist” mean? What does the word “philanthropy” (or “philtrophy” as Anna Faris’ “The House Bunny” character Shelley pronounces it) even mean?

Let’s consult every writer and blogger’s BFF (well, one of mine at least), the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for this one. According to them, a philanthropist is “one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare a person who practices philanthropy”. At first glance, this as being anyone who intentionally works to make the world a better place, not just someone with deep pockets.

They further describe philanthropy using two definitions, one of which is the more familiar one and the other of which gives me validation for my new other alter-ego. The more common definition (which is actually #2 in their book and mine) is that philanthropy is “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes; an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes. The names I mentioned above often fit this bill, or even extending the definition further can include teams such as the Canadian Armed Forces & Global Affairs Canada personnel who make up DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team). The first definition is the one that I and a lot of people I am fortunate enough to know fit into. The first definition states that philanthropy is “goodwill to fellow members of the human raceactive effort to promote human welfare”.

How can I too be considered a philanthropist even though I’m not a millionaire, multi-millionaire or billionaire?

So, as you can see, you don’t need oodles of money to be considered a philanthropist, at least by one of the definitions!! SO, what are some ideas for how you too can join our vaulted ranks?

  • Volunteer. This can be anything from helping your neighbour take care of their lawn/garden once in awhile to volunteering on a regular basis with an organization you love to joining a Service Club, and even starting a non-profit organization/club of your own!
  • Perform a Random Act of Kindness. I love this one and am “guilty” of a few RAKs myself every year. This one is also simple to do and really is all about doing something nice for someone else just because. It can be putting more time in a parking meter, starting a “pay-it-forward” chain at the Drive Thru or buying someone a cup of coffee on a cold day when they don’t have a warm place to go either at all or until their shelter reopens. The possibilities are endless for this one.
  • Give it away. Give something that you aren’t using to someone that could really use it. Business clothes that are too big/small/not necessary for your job anymore can be donated to places like Dress for Success (where they help women either getting back into the working world or in need of some new professional attire but can’t afford high end items with the right outfits). Old dresses, suits or accessories that you wore once or a few times can be donated to places like the Prom Project or The Corsage Project so that teens can look stunning on their Prom nights without the high prices.
  • Donate. Some credit card companies may allow you to donate accumulated points to various charitable organizations, so the donation doesn’t cost you anything! For blood donations, as Canadian Blood Services says, it’s in you to give. 1 pint of blood can save the lives of three people. If your spiritual or religious beliefs allow for it, you can even register to donate organs to someone in need, either while you are alive (i.e. a kidney or liver) or after you’ve died.
  • Corporate charitable initiatives. See if your organization has a corporate donation matching policy where they match their employees’ charitable donations either dollar-for-dollar or greater. Some organizations even provide paid time off to their for volunteering opportunities. I even know of a few businesses that shut down their offices a few times a year so that the whole company can do a volunteer initiative together as a teambuilding exercise! If your workplace doesn’t have these opportunities in place, offer to help spearhead the initiative!

Now, go forth my fellow broke and maybe not so broke philanthropists to share your goodwill & passions with the world!