Professionals in what?
It’s not a question I’m completely unfamiliar with. As an up-and-coming young professional who joined the Professionals in Philanthropy (PiP) team a little more than a year ago, it’s a question that’s been posed by a number of my peers. “What exactly do you do Aeriel?” Because for many people my age, the answer to that question isn’t clear. But it may be unclear to more than just Millennials.
Recently, while in polite conversation, a woman close to her 40’s (the specific age I’ll respectfully decline to announce) asked me what philanthropy meant. From a Millennial, it’s nearly expected. It may be a lack of experience, or perhaps a lack of faith in my generation, but we accept that philanthropy will be a foreign concept. It’s something we’ll understand more about when we’re established in our careers. But it was unexpected coming from someone who is already established. As a Millennial, here’s what I think.
No one should make it to 40 without knowing what philanthropy is. No one should make it to my age, 21, without knowing what philanthropy is. No one should become a teenager without knowing what philanthropy is. Kids. Kids should know what philanthropy is.
Philanthropy is about a concern for others around you; it’s compassion for humanity. Philanthropy is concern turned into action whether you give your money, time or talents. Why is that something we accept most young people won’t understand? Why is it something that can escape the attention of anyone?
I can admit that I’m biased: I understand not everyone wants to make a career out of philanthropy. But I believe that most people want to do good. I believe that there’s a drive inside of people to leave this world better than they found it. I think that’s what we should foster in kids. Not a love of makeup or football; a love Coach or hot-rods (although it’s okay to love those things too; I myself am partial to football and hot-rods). What’s most important is to teach people about philanthropy. Whether they’re 2 or 82.
What’s our role? It’s spreading the word. I’m interested in a culture. One where we value the amount of heart we have to offer. That isn’t just about donating money, it’s about valuing our ability to care for one another and be cared for by others. Tell others about philanthropy. Tell your kids about it if you have them. Participate in philanthropy. Participate in it with others.
Let’s make philanthropy a household name. And me? I’ll help each time I answer the question. It’s Professionals in Philanthropy. Giving back is what we do.