Philanthropy in Greece - Giving Tuesday
You might remember in our recent Bold blog Two Americans in Greece - Post Bailout, that Christos, our co-Founder, marveled at the growing vibrancy in the Greek economy. While in Greece this summer, he also saw Greek givers, movers, and shakers pitch in to improve lives. At Tolmee, we decided to dive into the world of Greek philanthropy and charity. Our thoughts are timely as we rush toward #GivingTuesday (November 27) a day of giving and philanthropy.
Interestingly, the word philanthropy derives from the Ancient Greek phrase philanthropia, meaning "to love people.” Carrying on a long tradition, today’s Greek philanthropists are clearly driven by a desire to do good. They are laser-focused on their mission and are finding successes, both large and small. Though plenty of well regarded international charities deserve mention, we’ll highlight just a few of our favorites doing Greek-centric good work, along with some ideas on how you can get involved. And what’s more, we’ve put together a quick guide for choosing a charity on your own. Let’s jump in.
Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)
Mr. Niarchos (3 July 1909 – 16 April 1996) was a shipping magnate of extraordinary means. Worth roughly $22billion at his death, he left a large portion of his fortune to establish a foundation in his name. The foundation provides both domestic and international grants to a wide variety of organizations doing important work around the globe. The foundation remains part of the family legacy; in fact, his sons Philip and Spyros continue to serve on the Board of Directors.
Once chosen, a SNF grant recipient can expect a significant boost. In fact, the Chronicle of Philanthropy recently recognized the foundation’s sizable grant to the Hellenic Fire Department in Athens. The $29.3 million award supported the firefighters who answered the call and combated this summer’s deadly wildfires. The grant went toward helping prevent future tragedies by providing new state-of-the-art equipment and training programs to the Fire Department.
Greece infamously struggles with a stray animal problem exacerbated by the economically difficult debt crisis years. Current estimates suggest that some 1,000,000 dogs are affected. Tolmee co-Founder, Christos shares why he connects to this organization: “I love Takis Shelter. He has given everything up, has moved to the countryside, and keeps on buying land to expand his shelter. His love of animals is evident. He has a huge social media following (200k+ on FB). He never refuses an animal in his animal shelter.”
Head over to Takis’ Facebook page, and you’ll sense his empathy through the camera lens, which chronicles the struggles and successes of his strays. Take the time to read his story, which grew out of a desire to save strays scavenging through dump heaps. Takis’ story is heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure.
The Hellenic Senior Citizens of North Shore Chicago
An influential and important leader, Pericles (Greek: Περικλῆς; ca. 495 BCE - 429 BCE) is thought to have said, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
Reflecting this simple yet universal truth, we introduce Christos’ uncle, Chris Demopoulos. For years Mr. Demopoulos, along with 20 friends, got together at the local McDonald’s for coffee. However, three years ago, a regular day took a philanthropic turn when they decided to create The Hellenic Senior Citizens of North Shore Chicago. Every year they organize a dinner with the goal of raising funds for charity. Christos says “Through networking and strong negotiation skills gained through many years, they make sure that all food and services are donated. Their hard work has raised close to $10k annually. All proceeds are donated to The Smile of the Child. A heart chilling mission, the team at The Smile of the Child focus on providing treatment and prevention services to vulnerable children in Greece, of all ethnicities. They focus on helping victims of domestic violence, trafficking and other injustices that beset the most vulnerable in Greek society.
How can you help?
So, what is the young Greek philanthropist of modest means but ample energy to do? For one, she could head over to the Greek American Foundation and apply to the Young Philanthropist Project. The project’s goal is simple yet powerful: “To serve the community, advocate on behalf of those without a voice, and cultivate Philotimo - the Greek way of life.” Only 30 members are selected for this highly competitive program. The young men and women selected are expected to give it their all, in return for mentorship from prominent diaspora Greeks and exposure to successful philanthropies.
Or, if you have the means to provide a measure of financial support, you can start researching your own charities. We hope the three we’ve highlighted here can help you start thinking about what matters to you, and we’ve put together a handy guide to picking a great charity. Let us know what you think and what your favorite charities are. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.