Joan, Joseph and I were lucky to participate in the Glenn Institute's Family Philanthropy panel the other night. (Hannah is in Australia until Monday so she had to miss it, poor girl.) Our family was joined on the panel by the McCamey and Russells. Each family had a very different story: ours you already know; the McCameys begin looping their kids into the service mix before they are one-year-old (my favorite quote from Bill, the dad: "you just have to schedule it, just like soccer"); the Russells have this marvelous multi-generational thing going, in which family members ages 10-70+ might be in the mix, all with a spirit of helping those in need.
At one point, I asked the audience and the panel the question in the headline above, "Are you a philanthropist?" You see, in my mind, philanthropists are named Rockefeller or Carnegie or Gates. Not Salwen. Our family is a collection of givers or doers or servers, not philanthropists.
About 40 percent of the audience members raised their hands. It was clear they had a more expansive view of philanthropy than I did. Then one man in the audience -- a quite learned man at that! -- stood up to explain that the Latin translation of the word philanthropy is "love of mankind." By that definition, maybe lots more of us are philanthropists, or at least philanthropic.
What do you think? Do we need a new word, or is philanthropist cover it?