Five Things to Do on National Philanthropy Day

By Abeer Yusuf

As we observe National Philanthropy Day on November 15, we’d like to take a look at how we can frame giving, volunteering, and charitable engagement and the acts of philanthropy that can help make our world a better and more just place to live. There are a ton of things out there to do and many calls to action to do this, so we’d like to share some ideas with you to do on this day and beyond!

  1. Read or borrow Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas. This excellent book critiques giving and how philanthropy works (and doesn’t work) on a systemic level.
  2. Subscribe to the Decolonizing Wealth newsletter and read Edgar Villanueva’s book Decolonizing Wealth. Edgar periodically sends out thoughts on how to approach philanthropy with a non-colonial lens and how money can heal.
  3. Check out On Being which shares a collection of podcasts and essays on what it means to be human and all the intersections that can include. Of particular interest, listen to the podcast on the importance of practicing delight and read the essay on what it means to stand in the shadow of hope. The work of philanthropy is to inherently change systems that don’t work or serve the greater good, which can be hard to maneuver. The two pieces dive into two important concepts: Grounding hope in reality and the importance of joy as we all do critical work of unsettling inequitable systems.
  4. Eat local food and veggies. Giving can be done easily, but incorporating food justice and mindfulness into food–an essential part of how we live and cope–is equally important. Fresh Roots, a Vancouver-based organization, helps food justice evolve in a variety of ways and bonus: You can even buy their veggie boxes!
  5. Learn how giving can look different in different communities. Communities across Canada embody the concept of giving differently; be it through the Sikh concept of seva, or the Muslim concept of zakat, and countless other ways that charity has been done within community for time immemorial. Recent LEVEL Youth Policy Program participant, Marion Erikson also explored a decolonized way of reframing childbirth in her local community, which we encourage you to look at along with other projects from the program here.
  6. Last but certainly not the least, charity begins at home. We hope you take time to critically examine ways in which you can give back to yourself. A helpful way of doing this is reframing in your mind what you would do to take care of your best friend versus what you would do for yourself. We’re often far kinder to others than we are to ourselves. We need all of us in the work of philanthropy, volunteering, and charity, but we can’t be present if we don’t first take care of ourselves, with others in community.