Looking Forward to National Philanthropy Day

By Louise Gregory

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said to an audience, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” At National Philanthropy Day, this year taking place on November 18, the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Golden Gate Chapter will recognize Bay Area individuals and organizations whose “doing for others” will inspire us all.

Looking at the lists of past honorees, we see civic leaders as well as grassroots community members who dedicate their time and energy to better the world. Each year we also pay tribute to those who have passed away and left a memorable legacy. In short, National Philanthropy Day is like the Oscars for philanthropists.

I remember my first National Philanthropy Day. It was a challenge to take the time away from the office as I had just started my new job at the Academy of Sciences. But, we had purchased a table and one of the Academy’s generous supporters, Jeannik Méquet Littlefield, was being honored for the Distinguished Achievement Award. So, the Executive Director along with a few Trustees joined our development team in showing our appreciation.

When we entered the banquet room, I was instantly overwhelmed with the many fundraisers and donors in the room. How was I going to make it to my table with all the networking happening?? But, we did, and I noted that we should have taken the extra step and recognized a Table Honoree.  Lesson learned, as the Spirit of Philanthropy Awards are a wonderful way for organizations of all sizes to thank generous supporters.

The program began with the annual Tributes, recognizing those who had passed in that year, leaving a meaningful legacy. As the violist played a soulful sonata by J.S. Bach, my napkin quickly became a tissue as I dabbed the tears from my eyes. Thankfully, after the Tributes, the joyous announcements of each awardee lifted my spirits until the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy made me question what I had been doing with my life. Fortunately, the Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award reminded me that my work matters.

Everyone left the event with a smile on their faces and a few business cards in their pockets. I confess that I was in such a good mood that I splurged on a visit to Neiman Marcus’ clearance rack- after all, I was downtown!

Since that first experience, I have looked forward to National Philanthropy Day as an opportunity to spend time with fellow fundraisers and volunteers as we shed a tear and clap loudly for those amazing people and organizations who have done much for others.

I encourage you to join me on November 18. Though it will be virtual again this year (with hope for an in-person event in 2022), it will be your most enjoyable zoom of the day.

For more information about National Philanthropy Day 2021, please see our website

Louise Gregory, CFRE is the Executive Director of Development at the UC Berkeley Library.   During her over 20 years of experience in leadership roles in science, arts, and academic institutions, Louise has specialized in developing major and planned gifts programs as part of capital and endowment campaigns.  Louise is presently on the Board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Golden Gate Chapter, and is a co-chair of National Philanthropy Day 2021.