What is a philanthropist? Who are the most famous philanthropists? You too can be one.

The Gates (2)

The Giving Pledge lists the names of people – all billionaires – who have pledged to give away more than 50% of their wealth.

Some have more to give; others have less to give; and, some have nothing to give.

Nothing? Is that possible?


Meng, who worked as a mechanic in a local SME, was reluctant to work overtime and that upset his boss, Sylvester.

When time came to knock-off, Meng was usually the first out the gate and because of this, Sylvester usually marked him down during the annual performance reviews. Meng would complain that he worked very hard and unlike the other mechanics, he was never late for work, never disappeared for “smoke breaks” and always completed his tasks faster. He was quite unpopular with his co-workers.

This year was no different and when Meng saw his low performance score, he protested, “I’m never late, always punch in on time!”

“And you always punch out on time too!” retorted Sylvester.  

“Aiyah, you always give me work at the last minute. See, even that job came in yesterday,” said Meng, as he pointed to a gearbox on the wooden crate. “Now, you tell me the customer wants it tomorrow.”

“Hey, you’re only a mechanic, don’t tell me how to manage my business.”

“Aiyah, sorry-lah, boss, don’t be like that but if you’d told me earlier, I can prioritise my work.”

“You’re so rich, you don’t want overtime, is it?”

“Boss, don’t be like that, I want the money but I’m also doing charity work,” replied Meng.

“Charity? You’re so rich is it?”

“Aiyah, money always not enough, boss, but I do all the repairs in an old folks home,” said Meng, “the electrical, the plumbing, the painting, the grass cutting and everything.”

“Just do as you’re told!”


Who is the rich one, who is the poor?

Giving is more than merely giving money. A person who gives his time to help others is also a philanthropist.

Unlike money, when you give your time, there are no tax breaks. Unlike money, when you give your time, you cannot earn it back. When you give your time, you touch people in ways that enriches the recipient and you, the giver. Giving one’s time to help others – anyone and in any small way – is the greatest of all gifts.

When you give your time – you give away a part of your life. You join the ranks of the great philanthropists.

Perhaps Meng could have handled the situation better but then again, Meng is “only a mechanic”.

As for Sylvester – if he could not give his time, at the least he could help Meng give his.

Thank you and have a great day ahead!

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