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Philanthropy and Giving Are Not Just about Money

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What is the definition of “giving?” Has the term become synonymous with nothing but money – rather than the giving of an individual’s time, talents and skills?  And what about the word “philanthropy?” Has it, too, become indistinguishable from the giving of only money? Are philanthropy and giving just about money?

In this Points of View, co-authors Susan J. Ellis and Rob Jackson take a potentially volatile discussion – one that Rob first started in a blog for an influential UK publication – and bring it to e-Volunteerism’s international readership. Through the use of dictionary definitions, historical references and recent discussions, the co-authors trace the time-honored usages of these words and document recent developments in new adaptations and meanings. And “no,” the co-authors conclude, “philanthropy and giving are not just about money.”

The co-authors challenge readers to think deeply about this issue – which could no doubt have serious future implications for the volunteering community. “Why should we care?” Susan and Rob ask. “Because those of us focused on volunteer involvement need to listen carefully to the use of language by others – and be careful in our own word choices. Our goal should be to encourage the widest possible spectrum of giving and philanthropy, getting people to participate as they can, when they can, while helping our organizations to see any form of gift as support worthy of appreciation and cultivation.”