National Philanthropy Day, 'small acts of philanthropy are sometimes the largest'


Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 15, is National Philanthropy Day. This annual observance has been designated by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) to celebrate giving activities by contributing to one’s favorite nonprofit organizations either financially, via in-kind support, or by volunteering.

National Philanthropy Day signifies the importance of working together for the common good. On National Philanthropy Day (or any other day), no act of kindness goes unnoticed.

Too often, when we hear the term ‘philanthropy,’ we presume this only refers to individuals like Bill and Melinda Gates or Warren Buffet, people with great wealth. However, philanthropy is more than donating large amounts of money; it is each of us working together to support our community in whatever way we can based on our time, talent, and treasure. Never think that the amount you give is without merit because every philanthropic deed, no matter the size, makes a difference.
Small Acts of Philanthropy Are Sometimes the Largest

Once, I had an extra ticket to a nonprofit fundraiser, so I invited a friend of mine who was a single working mother - I suspected she would enjoy a night out and I enticed my daughter to babysit for her. On our way to the event, I said that while this was a fundraiser, I had no expectations that she was going to donate to the cause, she was just there to enjoy herself.

Later that evening, when donations were being collected from our table, I noticed that my guest had included a donation! Without thinking, I said to her, “I told you; you were not obligated to make a donation!” (I know, how rude of me). Luckily, my kind and generous friend did not take offense but then explained to me that when she needed help the most, the nonprofit honored this evening, was there to help her, and now she could return the support that they had given her. That evening, I learned what real philanthropy looks like.
Participating in Philanthropy

Give Local 2023 continues until this Friday, November 17. Give Local South Puget Sound, an initiative of the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound, encourages community philanthropy, increases support for causes people in our region care about, and boosts nonprofit visibility.

There are over 100 participating nonprofits, so no matter your passion, there is a place to donate and if you donate tomorrow on Giving Wednesday, everyone who donates at least $5 has a chance to win an extra $100 for a participating Give Local nonprofit of their choice! For more details, click here.

Make a Difference as A Family

This Saturday, November 18 (the Saturday before Thanksgiving), is Family Volunteer Day, a Global Day of Service that celebrates the power of families who work together to support their communities and neighborhoods. Hosted by the Points of Light Foundation this is a great way to make memories with your family by supporting your neighbors and our community together: There are on-site as well as online activities and here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Find an in-person or virtual volunteer opportunity near you.
  • Get inspired with our DIY Projects playlist.
  • Share photos with us on social using #VolunteerTogether and #FamilyVolunteerDay.
  • 5 Family Volunteer Opportunities While Working from Home

To learn more about this day of service and ways that you may get involved, click here.

 Check out these local volunteer opportunities

  • Volunteers are needed to help with event set-up and clean-up, helping attendees navigate through the event, assisting with Santa photos, and more. Volunteer shifts are 3 hours long. For more information and to register, visit the Christmas Tree Lighting Volunteer Registration page on the City website. For more details, click here.
  • The Olympia Downtown Alliance will once again be hosting their annual street festival downtown this holiday season. LoveOly WinterFest is set for the Sunday after Thanksgiving, November 26. Our family has made it a tradition to go to Downtown Olympia at 5th and Washington and kickoff the holiday season by enjoying the live music from local high schools and the Olympia Symphony Quartet! There will be activities for kids and families, seasonal "tree" lighting and other family-friendly fun, best of all, everything is free. The LoveOly folks are looking for volunteers as well to help make this an incredible experience. For more details on volunteering or attending, click here.

Nominate someone for a Washington state volunteer service award

Know a volunteer who has made a difference in our community or a community helper who loves to lend a hand?  Honor them by nominating them for a Washington State Volunteer Service Award! Anyone who performed any type of volunteer service during 2023--formal or non-formal-- can be nominated. Nominations are due by 5 p.m. Friday, December 22. Get answers to FAQs or go to Submit your nomination.

Soliciting your ideas

If you know of a nonprofit that is doing something great, celebrating a success, needs some outstanding volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits!

Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and to individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to her at


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