Growing up, I never knew the word “philanthropy.” When I heard the word in college, I was intrigued, so I looked it up to grasp its full definition. At that time, I concluded that I would probably never identify myself with philanthropy.
Over the years, I have learned to appreciate my community as well as the concept of being philanthropic. As I reflect on my childhood, I realize how generous my family was with the little they had. Whether it was helping our neighbors or family, giving at church, or helping to organize a small community fundraiser, my family was philanthropic.
Recently, over dinner with friends, I was discussing Latinos and philanthropy. We agreed that Latinos are generous but they tend to shy away from traditional or formal methods of giving. We discussed that Latinos have been excluded from participation because many are unclear or uncomfortable with how formal systems of giving work. There’s often a feeling that their contributions won’t make a difference. Some feel the systems are elitist or for older people. The list of deterrents goes on.
After sharing our personal experiences, we agreed that philanthropy can be powerful! Donations help Latino organizations stay relevant and be effective and viable in a changing environment. With support, members of our community get more opportunities to learn, which improves their lives and benefits their families. With education, people are lifted to new heights of economic prosperity.
I am fortunate to be at the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado because I can seize opportunities to make our community a better place. I experience first-hand how your individual contributions are combined to invest in strategies that benefit Latino children, youth, adults and elders throughout Colorado. I can ensure these investments directly support families and our community.
Today, I am aware of the many ways I can give back and understand the power philanthropy has in my community. I guess I can now call myself a philanthropist - no matter how I give of my time, talent or money. I invite you to get more involved in philanthropy and see the difference you can make in your neighborhood, community or in your family.
As always, please email me with ideas, suggestions or questions you may have on being a philanthropist. By sharing our stories, we are building a stronger community.
Latino Community Foundation of Colorado