Non-Profit = Non-Progress?

I had a conversation the other day with Michele F Gartner from the Trico Foundation about the charitable sector marketplace.  She informed me that the Latin root for PROFIT means PROGRESS and that by putting the word "non" in front of Profit we are, by default, setting up organizations for failure as it implies non-progress.  Interesting tidbit I thought, so of course I had to explore this further.  Google is amazing!

Here's the link about the Latin roots for non-profit.  Scroll half way down.

My exploration led me back to a presentation I developed for a conference in Australia.  Ronald Wright, author of a Short History of Progress, states, "We are running twenty-first centure software on hardware last upgraded 50,000 years ago or more."  How can human-kind advance and progress when the software we are using is being run on hardware from our first incarnation? 

For this conference, and in subsequent presentations and articles, I have written about the Four R's of Philanthropy.

  • Human RIGHTS
  • Co-RESPONSIBILITY
  • RESPECT
  • RECONCILIATION

By looking at how these four concepts intersect with: personal values; family orientation; community objectives; municipal, regional and national governance; we can begin to change the direction of our humanity.  Philanthropy is a piece of our social evolution - it is the litmus test for how we share our resources with each other.  In fact, the role of philanthropy is changing so quickly as more corporate and community investment pressures and expectations are placed on the charitable marketplace that the word itself is almost obsolete.

Going back to my original conversation with Michele, the definition of philanthropy is the "love of mankind."  Because this word has morphed so much over the generations, one could argue that this is no longer the case.  Or that perhaps, this word, at its root is correct, but our social drivers no-longer engage at that one-on-one level of doing something for someone for "the love of it."

How do we define philanthropy in today's ever shrinking world?  How do we have the "philanthropy" conversation in the context of the Four R's that are influencing our societal growth and shift?

I argue that it is possible to RE-create (adding a fifth "R") the way that societies are built by looking at the cultures upon which they arise and integrating those cultures into the overall social framework.  The idea that philanthropy, at its core, is the love of mankind, means that it is possible to have a more inclusive, just society that recognizes:

  • the value of cultural citizenship,
  • the role that the arts plays in creating communities,
  • the importance of aboriginal reconciliation and
  • the value of a charter for the human venture.

Thoughts?