From Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and founder of the Nobel Prizes, to Bill Gates, inventor of computer and internet operating systems and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the tradition of philanthropic giving around the world and the country is long and rich. Famous philanthropists have left indelible marks on the world, turning their fortunes into longstanding bastions of goodwill and good works.

On a smaller scale, but no less important, are the philanthropists of the local community—those people and organizations who dedicate a portion of their time and money to support and enrich the communities in which they live. On November 5, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater New Orleans Chapter will celebrate the 25th annual National Philanthropy Day, and local heroes will be honored with a reception and awards luncheon, to be
held at the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans.

At the event, entitled “Change the World with A Giving Heart,” participants will celebrate both the tradition of charitable giving and the community leaders who are paving the way to a more robust and community-focused New Orleans through their generous donations of time and resources. “It will be wonderful to have so many philanthropic people in one room,” says Jenny Rogers co- chair of the event for Association of Fundraising Professionals. “These are the people working to make New Orleans, and the world, a better place.”

This year’s honorees are a diverse group, representing many of the different sectors of the city. The Catholic Foundation took honors in the Outstanding Foundation category; Ochsner Health Systems captured the Outstanding Leadership in Corporate Philanthropist Award; Roger Ogden was crowned Outstanding Philanthropist; Clark Todd took top prize in Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser category; Manya Gitter took distinction in the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy category; Alice Wright was awarded Outstanding Fundraising Professional; and Leslie Jacobs was honored with the Board of Directors Award.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals, which sponsors National Philanthropy Day events around the world, is an organization dedicated to professional development and the fostering of relationships between financial sponsors and the nonprofit organizations that use those resources to support neighborhoods and projects on the ground and in the streets. There are 297 chapters and over 30,000 members of the AFP internationally. “As a profession we are trained to highlight the need for organizations to build a culture of philanthropy,” Rogers says. “The first step is to build lasting relationships between community nonprofits and donors. This is not about just asking a donor to give a gift.”

The AFP Greater New Orleans chapter was founded in 1980, and has grown to more than 160 members spanning nearly every category of nonprofit in the metropolitan area, from education to health care, from arts to fair housing. The local chapter hosts two main events per year- a series of workshops held every June, and the community awards luncheon held in concert with National Philanthropy Day each November. Monthly meetings include guest speakers and sessions on professional development and networking.

In the spirit of honoring the dedicated service of others, and inspiring the philanthropists of Greater New Orleans as well as the professionals in the nonprofit sector of the community, the celebration of National Philanthropy Day in New Orleans promises to be another tremendous success. Having outgrown some local venues, the event now boasts over 500 participants. “It’s the largest event of its kind in the city,” Rodgers explains, “and we’re honored to celebrate that philanthropic spirit.”