Today marks the beginning of my 27th year. You might think that’s cause for celebration. In my book, turning 27, and thinking on the number 27 in general, is actually cause for reflection. Before you begin making your own assumptions as to what caused the number to be a noteworthy one in my life, let me share a story with you: a man recently immigrated to the US, offers all the money he has in his pocket — 27 quarters — to a person in need he meets on the streets of Washington D.C. He does this because at that moment that was all he had. By doing so, he was acting on the belief that it’s our responsibility to uplift those in our community with “less.” That man was my father. Although we only spent 3 years on this earth together, he taught my sister and I many important lessons about philanthropy. He also taught us about the importance of leveraging one’s resources, regardless of how limited, to impact your community and the world.
We as a society increasingly associate philanthropy, a word — which literally means “love of mankind” — with tax code write-offs, large institutions and immense privilege. I believe that we must consider a broader understanding of philanthropy to capture the countless philanthropic activities led by people, like you and me, that harnesses the value of “love of mankind.” By expanding our collective viewpoint of philanthropy in this way, we empower communities to lead the change they wish to see and thereby value the resources they choose to give.
As I step into this day, I ask one thing: that you honor the philanthropists in your life and that you consider how and why they choose to give their energy to the world. Over the next year I will be asking myself that same question and highlighting 12 philanthropists I meet near and far who embody “love of mankind.”
Stay tuned and follow along #27Quarters for updates.