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Today when someone is identified as a philanthropist, just about everyone assumes that person is a millionaire or billionaire. Many philanthropists are famous for being so, such as Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffet, and Bill and Melinda Gates.


However, to earn the title of philanthropist does not require a person to be mega-wealthy. Consider Mother Teresa. She declared an oath of poverty, but she spent her life expending every hour of her time helping impoverished people.


A philanthropist is properly defined as anyone who gives of their time, talent, or treasure to others in need. That treasure does not have to be millions of billions. If you don’t $5 a week to your favorite charity – you are a philanthropist! The word philanthropy was coined more than 2,500 years ago by the Greek playwright Aeschylus. He meant it to denote anyone who took time to help his or her fellow mankind.


You Can Be a Philanthropist


So, adopting the role of philanthropist is easy. For example, one Minnesota man, Ken K., said that every time he buys a few items at his local Dollar General store, he plunks his change in a little plastic box strategically located on the check-out counter.


All the spare change collected goes to literacy programs. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation was established in 1993 and is headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.


Ken figures his spare change effort amounts to perhaps a “few tens of dollars” per year. Good enough! Ken is a philanthropist!


You don’t have to give any money at all to be a philanthropist. For example, if you volunteer to work in the kitchen at a homeless shelter once a week, you belong in the philanthropist club. If you offer to do the bookwork for your local food bank, you qualify. If you mentor youth in the Big Brother program, volunteer to pick up trash on the beach, or offer your handyman skills to work on a new home for Habitat for Humanity, guess what that makes you?


That’s right. You’re a philanthropist.


Note that you can always kick things up a notch by improving your effort. For example, you can look into education resources such as Boost Your Giving IQ to increase the impact of your philanthropic ambitions.


Whatever the case, always remember it’s not the amount of your monetary contribution or the time duration of your charitable effort that’s important – it’s the fact that you do it.