Giving Your Time and Talent – A Reflection on MLK Day


Engaged Philanthropy Team
January 18, 2021

Service. The gift of time. Volunteering is an extremely valuable gift to bestow upon your community.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off.” The only federal holiday designated as a national day of service, MLK Day is an opportunity to encourage all Americans to volunteer and serve in their communities in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy as a civil rights leader. 

Dr. King himself once declared, “everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” The Denver Foundation has witnessed Dr. King’s defined greatness residing in Metro Denver’s communities of color over the years. The Foundation encourages all to considers the “5 T’s of Philanthropy”: time, talent, treasure, testimony, and social ties. On the holiday to celebrate an esteemed Civil Rights Leader, we center time and talent as Dr. King did for many years. 

The “Five Ts” depict a broad and inclusive definition of what it means to be a philanthropist. These pillars on which philanthropy stands have been at the core of Denver Foundation initiatives like the Executive Directors of Color Institute (EDCI), Elevating Philanthropy in Communities of Color (EPIC), and our newest venture, the Black Resilience in Colorado (BRIC) fund. 

“What we are recognizing beyond treasure, beyond the financial resources, are the ways in which communities of color have forever been able to mobilize and create the change that they wish to see through their time. Utilizing that collective force to transform in their communities, as well as bridging into the larger work required to create systemic change in our country systems,” said LaDawn Sullivan, Special Advisor of BRIC at The Denver Foundation. Speaking to the meaning of the “Five Ts” during an issue briefing about the BRIC fund in August 2020. 

This year on MLK Day, a national day of service, the Foundation reflects upon the contributions of time, talent, treasure, testimony, and social ties by members of our EPIC giving circles and donor-advised fundholders, participants in EDCI, organizations funded by BRIC and the Critical Needs Fund in addition to acknowledging the dedication of our staff and board to expanding the definition of what it means to be a philanthropist. Taking to heart Dr. King’s words, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’. 

We encourage you to find a way to (safely) give back to your community. Time is a priceless, impactful, often undervalued resource to make the change we wish to see in our community. Make this MLK Day a “Day on”. 

MLK Day 2021 Events

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission Virtual Marade Video

City of Boulder Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Event Schedule