Philanthropy is so much more than just money

Just last week, Community Foundation of Whistler Board member Sue Lawther prefaced a presentation to her peers around the board room table by sharing some insight into her journey into philanthropy.

As this week is National Volunteer week, we wanted to share her story to celebrate not just Sue's amazing work with the Foundation but also in recognition of all the volunteers who contribute to our impact in the community. We rely on approximately 50 volunteers in order to operate.

Sljasaf2017"I have a confession to make.  I was not born with a philanthropic gene.  I did not find my way to this table of my own free will.  In my ‘youth’ I was like many other university grads, chasing both my own tail and the almighty dollar.  Success to me was measured in economic terms and philanthropy was measured in money donated to worthy causes, something that I would do in later years.  However, one of my BFF’s at university had other ideas, and we discussed our opposing philosophies at great length, as students do. Her message to me was that philanthropy could take several forms … “Time, Talent, or Treasure”.  I was stuck on the “Treasure” bit, and had not, and did not for many years, consider “Time” or “Talent”.  She lived her life embodying all three aspects … she was indeed born, I think, with that philanthropic gene, and she just simply ‘got it’ from day one.

Fast forward forty years, university degrees, marriages, careers, children, life’s journeys … and guess who was still at me about philanthropy?!  That student was still one of my BFF’s and we still had opposing views of philanthropy.  But this time our conversations took on a new meaning as it became clear that disease was going to make my BFF’s life journey shorter than any of us could have wished.  Her mandate to me became one that I could no longer ignore, and I plunged into the “Time” and “Talent” world of philanthropy.  Which brings me before all of you as I begin my journey in philanthropy.  I still do not have the “Treasure” but I am learning in spades all about the value of “Time” and “Talent”.  In the past two years all of you have given me far more than I have given you, but over time I hope I can give some of that back not only to all of you, but to the community as well." -April 19, 2017

Sue Lawther has been a board member for the past three years. She is Chair of the Jill Ackhurst Social Action Grants Advisory Committee and a member of the Vital Signs project team.