It seems when people hear or see the word philanthropy they think of huge sums of money. Donating money to an organization is certainly a huge contribution and it provides a critical means for the organization to remain sustainable.
But it seems to me that there are also other ways of giving that can be considered as philanthropy.
For example, serving on the board of a nonprofit organization is a form of giving that doesn’t necessarily involve money but may produce some of the same results. Finding an organization whose mission you have a passion for provides the perfect opportunity for you to join the board and promote what is important to you.
Over the years, I have served on seven boards on both the local and state level. As an educator, one way of reaching my students, their culture and their community was through the arts. Thus I found my passion and have advocated for arts education and the arts in general by serving on boards and committees that further that cause.
Serving on various boards has given me the opportunity to support a cause I believe in, to meet and work with people I might not normally come in contact with, and it has given me new perspectives for solving problems, allowed me to play a part in growing an organization, to play a part in the solution to problems that might exist and to be a positive change agent in an organization I strongly support.
While it is unfortunate that less than 3 percent of nonprofit board members are under 30 years old and 57 percent are over 50 years of age, we can see this as an opportunity for the young people of Homer to become actively involved in ensuring the quality of life we so appreciate. It is an opportunity to learn and grow, to provide a model for our children and grandchildren who will one day be the decision makers, to promote a cause, to contribute without having to have large amounts of money to give.
Yes, it takes some time, but the personal benefits and benefits to all far outweigh the effort.
You can do it. Join a board today (whatever age you are) and help make Homer the place that other communities look to as an example of a community that cares, supports its citizens and contributes to maintaining a quality of life appreciated by all.
Diane Borgman is a retired educator, small business owner and currently serves as a board member on the Alaska State Council on the Arts and Homer Council on the Arts.