“Why Give?”: 5 Lessons My Parents Taught Me About Philanthropy

Parents on their wedding dayMy parents on their wedding day in 1969.

By Andrea Price a_price1

My parents are two of the most philanthropic people I know. Do they profess to be philanthropists? No. I never even heard the word “philanthropy” mentioned in our household, but the actions of my parents fully demonstrate the meaning of philanthropy, “love of mankind”.

Over the years, they have taught me so much about life through the way they’ve lived theirs, and as I reflect on their teachings, 5 lessons they taught me about giving stand out.

1. It’s never too early to start giving.

sunday school

My mom was also my primary-age Sunday School teacher. Many Sunday mornings she would take our entire Sunday School class to a local assisted living facility to have Sunday School with some of the residents. I still remember the joy on the resident’s faces when they saw us coming. My mom never mentioned, “we’re going to volunteer” and the trips were not scripted “do-gooder” happenings. Our trips were all about sharing with those who are often forgotten, seniors. As an adult, I still visit assisted living facilities! The importance of giving my time was instilled in me early, and I’ve carried this value with me into adulthood.

2. Give time to “Raising the Village”!

youth sports

My dad was a volunteer youth baseball, softball and basketball coach for over 20 years. We lived a rural area and many of the youth my dad coached lived miles and miles away from each other. On many occasions, my dad would pick up many of the kids he coached and taxi them to and from practice. He dedicated his time to the community and the youth of the community even when his own kids were not participating in youth sports. He valued serving the community through coaching and positively impacting the lives of youth through sports. Many of the people he coached are now adults, but they still call him “coach.”

3. Giving is personal!

operation iraqi freedom

I’ve seen my parents give money to many causes. However, after my brother returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom, they found a cause to consistently support financially, a nonprofit that supports war veterans. My brother’s military service meant so much to them that their financial giving became very personal.

4. Use your talents to help others!

meal

Both my mother and father are excellent cooks, and their home is always open to those who are hungry or anyone who just wants a good meal. I can’t even count the number of times strangers popped up and were fed a great meal. Recently, a family traveling from a city two hours away ran into my family at a church service. They told my parents they didn’t have anything to eat so my parents invited them over. My mom and dad prepared them “to-go” plates and even went into their freezer and gave the couple some fresh collard greens to take back home with them. Did my parents consider this “philanthropy”? No. They saw a couple that wanted something to eat and they shared their talent, cooking, to ensure the couple didn’t leave town hungry.

5. Never underestimate the power of love!

love

Love precedes all of my parent’s philanthropic actions. Sincerely giving time, talents and treasures is a value that plays out in their lives. The love shown through their actions inspires me to sincerely love and give to others.

I am forever grateful for the strong foundation of philanthropy that was prepared for me and I am grateful for all the lessons my parents have taught me. What are some lessons you’ve learned from others about giving?

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