November 15th marks National Philanthropy Day®. Every year on this day, hundreds of communities across North America honour local donors and volunteers for their giving and charitable engagement. This year, I am honoured to be the volunteer Co-Chair of the 2014 National Philanthropy Day®. It has been such an inspiring experience to meet amazing philanthropists and learn more about the causes they are passionate about. Many annual activities and initiatives are planned to celebrate National Philanthropy Day® and National Philanthropy Week®. There’s the Generosity of Spirit Awards, which recognize some of the most inspiring individuals, groups, companies, families and youth philanthropists in our community. There’s a Generosity of Spirit Reception to announce the award winners and there’s a National Philanthropy Day Youth Forum as well as a Professionals Forum. On top of those events, here are 5 other facts you may not know about National Philanthropy Day:
- Canada is the first: I am proud that Canada is the first country in the world to legislate November 15th as National Philanthropy Day®. In 2012, the Minister of Canadian Heritage declared November 15th National Philanthropy Day®, making Canada the first country in the world to permanently recognize the day. Since then, NPD has been recognized by numerous state, provincial and local governments across North America.
- Calgary is the biggest: National Philanthropy Day® is the biggest philanthropic celebration in Calgary and the largest celebration of its kind across Canada and North America! The Calgary chapter’s NPD activities span 10 days and involve more than 1,000 people from the non-profit and corporate sectors.
- Volunteers make it happen: National Philanthropy Day® and National Philanthropy Week® activities are all volunteer-run. My Co-Chair Mira Boucher and I lead approximately 40 volunteers to plan this incredible event. Volunteers do it all – from recruiting sponsorship, assisting with the Generosity of Spirit Awards judging process and reception planning, coordinating communications, social media, the professionals forum and many more initiatives.
- This year marks the 18th annual celebration of National Philanthropy Day® and Week in Calgary: While National Philanthropy Day® was officially recognized in 2012, activities have been held in our city for the past 18 years. This year’s theme – “Dare to Do” – challenges our community to take action to make Calgary even stronger. We invite you to share what you #daretodoYYC! And wait there’s more! Our partners at Imperial are giving a $1,000 donation to a tweeter who shares their story using the hashtag #daretodoYYC. And for every 100 tweets or retweets, our partners at Imperial and RBC will donate $10,000 in funding to the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations to help with capacity building. Looking forward to hearing what you #daretodoyyc!
- You are a philanthropist: What does it mean to be a philanthropist? The word can conjure up names on buildings and cheques with many dollar signs. The real definition of the word means: “love of humanity”. So, if you have ever volunteered your time for your child’s school or a local charity, mentored a youth, made a donation (however big or small) or helped a neighbour – you, too, are a philanthropist. NPD celebrates the idea that everyone can be a philanthropist – young to old, individuals to organizations – and that our contributions are wonderfully unique and extraordinary.
Kathleen MacPherson is Campaign Director at United Way of Calgary and Area. Kathleen leads a team of fundraisers that support and build community engagement through workplace campaign. Kathleen is also the 2014 National Philanthropy Day® Co-Chair.