When thinking of philanthropy, it can be easy to get lost in the broadness of the word. Many things can come to mind: wealthy families such as the Rockefellers, large community foundations, and nonprofits in search of grants to fund their programs. For me, philanthropy has taken on numerous different meanings. But first, let’s start with the definition of philanthropy. The origin and history of the word means “love of humanity.” Now, of course, the word has taken on a modern context, but I believe at the heart of philanthropy is still the love of and for humanity.
I am still not an expert of philanthropy or foundations, but my knowledge has gone from nonexistent to extremely appreciative. My projects at the Foundation Center in Cleveland have shown me how local and international institutes and people have been affected by philanthropy. For example, I work in the Playhouse Square district, which has long been supported by the generosity of the Cleveland Foundation. It is now not only a bedrock of Cleveland, but it is a nationally recognized theater district. I have realized that philanthropy is not about limited or short-minded thinking. It is about a bigger picture.
The Foundation Center has opened me up to the world of philanthropy by immersing me into it. I have looked at and inputted financial data of hundreds of community foundations, researched international foundations, and attended numerous workshops focusing on grants and foundations.
I never realized the affect philanthropy has had on the world or me personally, from the neighborhood I live in, to the transit system I ride, to the park I run in. Every single one has been touched by philanthropy, and, because of it, my life has been richer.
Each week we use this space to give each of our interns a chance to reflect on their internship experiences. Brian is a recent graduate of Xavier University. Placement: The Foundation Center