As #GivingTuesday approaches, it is a good time to think about philanthropy. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines this concept as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race especially in an active effort to promote human welfare; an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes; an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary the origin of the word comes from phil, meaning “loving,” and anthropo, meaning mankind. In other words, philanthropy has to do with benevolence and kindness to humanity.
Philanthropy is commonly associated with giving financial support to specific causes. These days, such causes can be related to the environment, to combating hunger and homelessness, to medical research, to animal welfare, to supporting victims of natural disasters, and to education, among other important issues. The impact of such gifts can be local, regional, national, or international.
However, there are other ways to practice philanthropy besides giving money. Providing service can also be a valuable gift. An example is the work of Habitat for Humanity. This organization recruits volunteers who help to build affordable housing. Whether you join with an organization to practice philanthropy, your volunteer service can provide much needed help and support to others.
#GivingTuesday is an ideal time to practice philanthropy. Perhaps you could go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor who must use oxygen. You could provide childcare during worship services at a mosque, synagogue, temple, or church. You could read to children in an after-school program or serve as a teacher’s aide in English classes. There are so many ways to give of yourself and support others!
Since we are about to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, this is a good time to remember all the things for which I am thankful. First, I am grateful to all the people who have given to TIRF in some way. In addition to providing critical financial support, many people give of their time and expertise. For example, those who review proposals for our Doctoral Dissertations Grants (DDGs) and Masters Research Grants competitions are crucial to the success of the Foundation’s research support programs.
I am also grateful to the readers of chapters and articles nominated for the TIRF James E. Alatis Prize for Research on Language Policy and Planning in Educational Contexts. In addition, I should acknowledge the many anonymous scholars who have reviewed our proposals to Routledge for the books in the “Global Research on Teaching and Learning English” series. I also want to recognize the support of all the people who have contributed to TIRF’s collection of reference lists, which are freely downloadable to anyone who has a use for them.
Giving to TIRF, whether through time, energy, or money, can be its own reward. Here are some recent comments from DDG proposal reviewers about their experience of contributing to the Foundation.
“It is a pleasure to serve and be inspired by the applicants.”
“I get great satisfaction from this work. It gives me faith in the future of our field to read about the amazing work that young people are doing.”
“It is absolutely a pleasure to contribute to the DDG review process. I am happy to support TIRF and if there are other ways I can help, please let me know.”
“It is always a pleasure to serve as a grant proposal review for TIRF. It is such an important way to support scholarly work of doctoral candidates who may not have access to other funding, and I am honored to be part of the effort.”
In closing, I must also acknowledge the incredible commitment of the Foundation’s current and former Trustees. They serve TIRF and its constituencies without any payment and even without remuneration. In fact, none of their expenses are reimbursed: They must pay for their travel and lodging to attend the Board meetings. Although we do provide lunch at the fall and spring meetings, their other meals associated with their Foundation work are not provided! The Trustees also give generously of their time to organize events and to publicize TIRF’s work, as well as serving as contributors to and editors of the Foundation’s publications (for which they receive no honoraria or royalties). Let us not forget that the time they spend on TIRF’s work is time that could be spent on other professional activities, such as doing research consulting or publishing.
The kinds of service I’ve described above are important types of philanthropy: “goodwill to fellow members of the human race especially in an active effort to promote human welfare; an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes; an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.” But in closing, I must ask you once again to support TIRF financially. Please give what you can this coming month to help the Foundation conclude 2019 in a stable financial situation, so that TIRF can continue to provide valuable services to the international community of language educators and researchers. This is indeed a time for philanthropy.