Philanthropy in Lethbridge

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by Kyle De Groot 

In the words of Melinda Gates, “philanthropy is not about the money. It’s about using whatever resources you have at your fingertips and applying them to improving the world.”

On National Philanthropy Day, November 15th, Lethbridge residents were inspired to do just that. Besides celebrating local philanthropic achievements, citizens participated in special activities throughout the week, including a flag raising ceremony at City Hall, an inspiring philanthropy awards luncheon, and a coffee/cupcake giveaway in downtown Lethbridge.

Kindness is contagious. Random acts of kindness instantly go viral, creating a positive ripple effect, benefiting everyone, and developing a stronger community. Simply holding a door open for someone, paying for a stranger’s coffee, or smiling at someone can make Lethbridge a better place.

The Southern Alberta chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) was instrumental in organizing the events leading up to November 15th. The key AFP goals include raising awareness of charitable giving, offering professional development for those who work within the non-profit sector, and assisting in the spread of philanthropic efforts throughout Southern Alberta.

Barry Knapp, current president of the local Southern Alberta AFP chapter, stressed the importance of celebrating what the charitable sector contributes to our city. “It’s one day in the year where we encourage people to stop and think about what the charitable sector contributes to our society. We hear time and time again just how generous the community is to all our non-profits and that really makes us feel good. That’s what National Philanthropic Day (NPD) is all about; it’s simply recognizing donors for making significant contributions and taking care of each other.”

According to Knapp, about six years ago several community partners got involved in developing the local AFP chapter, focusing on teaching fundraising professionals how to raise funds more effectively. Looking toward to the future, Knapp hopes to continue making a positive impact in our community by celebrating all acts of generosity. “Everybody who gives in any way, whether they donate their time, talent, or treasure, deserves to be recognized. We all need to make sure we stop for a day and realize how important generosity is.”

For Joyanne Mitchell, starting with a generous heart allows philanthropy to naturally grow. As Vice President of communications/membership for the local AFP chapter, Joyanne encourages more community members to become involved with philanthropy. She says her main goals are, “strengthening more involvement of businesses and acknowledging their own philanthropic efforts. It’d be nice having more people attend the annual luncheon, even if they’re not being honoured, they still know that they’ve done great work to build this great city.”

Globally AFP currently has over 30 thousand members, including about 3,000 across nineteen chapters in Canada. What first started out as a Glossary of Fund-Raising Terms has grown into a complex association that offers leadership academies, seminars, and networking opportunities.

How did you celebrate National Philanthropy Day?

It’s only one day, but philanthropy should continue throughout the whole year. Volunteering with a non-for-profit organization, donating money to a local cause or, as the definition of philanthropy states “showing love for humankind.” We so often hear about celebrities and companies donating millions of dollars to charities, but it’s often the smallest acts that have the biggest impact on people’s lives.

Further information about National Philanthropy Day and Association of Fundraising Professionals can be found at http://www.afpnet.org/content.cfm?ItemNumber=4032 or on Facebook.

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