Embracing Community: A Story of Lifelong Giving on National Philanthropy Day

November 15, 2023 / by United Way

National Philanthropy Day is a celebration of the profound role that giving plays in nurturing community. On this day, we honour the spirit of giving in all its forms, celebrating those who selflessly enrich our world through their kindness and generosity.

This National Philanthropy Day, we invite you to learn about Philip Lunn, a long-time donor who started giving in his first year of work, 40 years ago, in 1983.

The idea of giving started at home, inspired by his mother’s dedication to charity. “My mom would go door to door seeking donations for various charities every year.  I helped for a few years, but door-to-door campaigns became less effective over time.” This early influence shaped his view of philanthropy as an integral element of community development.

Philip’s approach to giving is anchored in the belief that personal achievements are inextricably linked to community support. He says, “I believe that personal success is not an individual endeavour.” The idea that no one is entirely self-made is a concept recently echoed and popularized on social media by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Philip attributes a significant portion of his success to the support he received, particularly from his parents, who provided the foundation for seizing life’s opportunities. His sense of gratitude and recognition of collective help is what drives his passion for giving back.

His connection with United Way Southern Vancouver Island (UWSVI) is fueled by his commitment to meeting local needs, valuing their support for smaller organizations that play a vital role in addressing specific community challenges.

When asked what about UWSVI is important to him, he says that, “United Way fundraises for local groups and agencies that understand our community and offer tailored programs and services that meet the needs. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to find these organizations on my own, nor would I likely recognize the gaps they address. …It’s crucial to acknowledge that smaller agencies, akin to the “corner stores” of the charitable world, heavily depend on United Way’s support. This … remains true here in Victoria and across Southern Vancouver Island.”

He recalls a story while attending an event at United Way in Calgary. The speaker discussed a United Way program supporting extremely young and at-risk children. The program’s primary goal was to assist these young people before they encountered challenges that could derail their futures. This concept deeply resonated with him, as he believes it is crucial to support initiatives like this that prioritize early intervention for vulnerable children. In his words “I appreciate United Way’s upstream approach. They focus on the cause and not just the symptoms.”

On National Philanthropy Day, Philip’s journey reminds us of the far-reaching impact of philanthropy. His message to others is to reflect on the assistance they’ve received throughout their lives and to be mindful of the needs in their own community. He encourages, “Take an honest look around at your life and consider how you were helped along the way. Then, look at our community, visit an agency, or even just walk the city. You’ll soon see the need. Give, even if it’s a small amount, to something that moves you.” His story is a compelling call to embrace the spirit of giving and contribute to the collective good.

This National Philanthropy Day, we encourage you to unite with us in exploring the depths of your personal philanthropic spirit. Ask yourself what inspires and moves you to share your love and generosity with the world. Let’s come together, unite in our efforts, and make a lasting impact.