Grow the Philanthropist in You

What does philanthropy mean? Philanthropy means giving of one’s self by donating time, money or energy to a charitable or good cause. You might be thinking — can I do it? Could I make a difference? Don’t let thoughts of high-profile philanthropists like Angelina Jolie or Bill and Melinda Gates scare you away. All philanthropic gestures count, big or small, and they don’t require you to have a big name or reputation to make it happen.  All philanthropy starts somewhere, and a little bit can go a long way.

Volunteers serving food

As with any new habit, start small and choose where to focus your energies. Decide what matters most to you. Philanthropy can be done individually, by joining forces with friends and family or tagging into already established philanthropic ventures like Angel Heart, St. Jude’s, etc. 

What might individual philanthropy look like? If hunger or homelessness is something you find problematic, you might donate money to food shelters for meals or carry bags of healthy snacks, socks and toiletries to pass out to homeless or needy people you encounter throughout your day. If you want to address the problem on a larger scale, you might volunteer with a civic group or work with/donate to local groups already working on the issue you are passionate about.

Philanthropy doesn’t have to be giving things or money, it can be giving your time. Maybe you could volunteer with groups like Habitat for Humanity, Volunteers of America or at an animal shelter. People often give to charities or volunteer their time during the holidays, however, most charitable organizations and causes need help all year. Try to destress the holidays by being philanthropic during other times of the year.

There are philanthropic opportunities available through Denver Health. The Volunteer Services department coordinates over 250 volunteers who donate their time to Denver Health. Anyone 16 years old or older who can commit 4 hours of service per week is eligible to participate. Through the Denver Health Foundation, individuals and/or corporations are able to donate money to support many initiatives. For more information visit the Denver Health Foundation volunteer web page. 

An added benefit to philanthropy is that when you donate time, money and/or talents, you increase your happiness quotient. Doing things for others helps the giver feel happier and more satisfied. Something as simple as helping your coworker can increase your inner happiness. Generosity is even linked to increased lifespan. 

For more ideas on how you can volunteer in Denver visit Volunteer Match.

Denver Health Medical Plan Staff Writer

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