We at the Cook Family Foundation are proud to be philanthropists, but we don’t want to be the only ones. On Giving Tuesday, December 3 this year, you too can be a philanthropist and help raise up those who do good work in our community.
The literal definition of a philanthropist is lover of humanity. The word derives from the Greek verb “philos” which means love and “anthropos” which means humankind. A person who practices, or believes in, philanthropy is a philanthropist.
Often, when we think of a philanthropist, we think of a man towards the end of a successful business career who makes a decision to give back to the place of their upbringing or advance a cause near and dear to their heart. The 19th-century industrialist, Andrew Carnegie, who donated the funds to build the library in Owosso (and much more), often comes to mind. For us, we think of Donald Cook, who translated his success at Wolverine Sign Works into the founding of the Cook Family Foundation (see a video here that tells his story).
But times have changed, and we strive to be a more egalitarian society where all can participate in strengthening our community. Philanthropy and democracy go together, and neither should be the arena of only the wealthy. Giving Tuesday is an opportunity where everyone who has had even a modest amount of good fortune can give back, or pay it forward, or help those in need.
Giving Tuesday was born in 2012 out of an aspiration to encourage generosity around the world, and to use the open tools of social media to inspire individual actions of philanthropy. These can include financial donations, but Giving Tuesday also appreciates the fact that volunteer efforts and acts of kindness also promote a more generous society and stronger communities.
In Shiawassee County, for the third year in a row, local nonprofit organizations have come together on Giving Tuesday under the banner of #raiseUPshiawassee to improve our communities. We have a strong collection of locally-based groups committed to missions which serve the residents of Shiawassee County, whether they be young or old, in crisis or seeking enrichment, or care about history, the environment, or animals. All of them are worthy of your support.
Perhaps less obviously, the collaboration of #raiseUPshiawassee also demonstrates that none of us alone is as good as all of us together. Three organizations–the Shiawassee Community Foundation, the United Way, and the Cook Family Foundation–serve as the coordinators of our local Giving Tuesday effort, but the effort is driven by collaborate efforts of Shiawassee-based nonprofits. In addition, the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership have engaged area businesses in this philanthropic endeavor. Working together, community organizations, local businesses, and caring citizens can make a real difference in Shiawassee County, and beyond.
In our country, we champion individual achievement, but we also know that when we jointly commit to a common goal we can accomplish even more. Giving Tuesday takes individual acts of kindness and charity and powers them up to create a society of generosity. And locally, #raiseUPshiawassee shows that the value of small donations are greater than the sum of the individual parts. Last year, 588 philanthropists made donations on Giving Tuesday to local nonprofits and together we raised $73,086 to make our community a better place. Next week, we hope you too can make a gift to one or more of our local groups and show your love for humanity and the place where we live. You can learn more about specific initiatives and make a donation to one (or all) at www.raiseUPshiawassee.org. You can also find volunteer opportunities at www.ShiawasseeServes.org.
And as we start the holiday season, we give thanks for the people who have a love for humanity and reach out with acts of kindness and generosity. Won’t you be one of them?