CLAREMONT, California — Today, philanthropy is an important and widely used term. While the word itself signifies the desire to support important causes through donations, philanthropy is sometimes seen as a past time for the wealthy.
Becoming a philanthropist does not require huge donations. Instead, what truly makes change are the thoughtful steps one takes in being a philanthropist.
As a philanthropist, an individual can make a big difference for important causes, organizations and policies with a little strategy, dedication and careful research. Here are five tips describing how to become an influential philanthropist.
1. Don’t Wait to Act. For many people, philanthropy and donating to causes may be something they think about often, but never end up acting on as life gets in the way. By making philanthropy a priority and choosing to act with a sense of urgency, individuals can make their desire to become a philanthropist a reality. In many fields, timelines and tasks are looked at from a long-term perspective, in terms of months or even years. However, philanthropists make their own deadlines and have the flexibility to choose when they act. Become a philanthropist by choosing to begin now, whether it’s research, advocating or donating. An urgent mindset will push you to begin now: There is no more important time to act than the present.
2. Do your research, and share that knowledge. Being a philanthropist goes far beyond donating to a specific organization or cause. A successful philanthropist is well-informed about the issue they are donating to, including the organization they are funding. A full understanding of not only what the donation is funding, but also the broader issues, gives philanthropy a fuller purpose. Before you begin donating, conduct research and look into organizations that support causes you are interested in. Examine how the giving process works, past outcomes, current projects and the organization’s history, so as to get a feel for how the organization operates. Then share your knowledge about the organization and the particular issue you are supporting with others. One of the most important ways to become a philanthropist is to help inform people about important causes, raise awareness and share that with other people. Post links to relevant articles on Facebook and Twitter. Strike up conversations with your friends about issues of global poverty. Write to your local newspaper about the non-profit you’re passionate about. Raise awareness and help promote philanthropy by sharing your own knowledge.
3. Be strategic. As working individuals, it can be discouraging to think about contributing money beyond your regular payments to a cause. Instead, finding ways to cut spending and donating strategically in small amounts can help make your path to becoming a philanthropist easier. Think about ways you can reduce spending, such as opting for black coffee instead of a latte or making an extra meal per week at home. Even if these measures are reducing your spending by only minuscule amounts at first, it can help you redirect that spending to philanthropy without the stress.
4. Integrate philanthropy and advocating into your lifestyle. “I first think about the impact I want to have, then I look at all the resources I have at my disposal. Grants, investments, networks, time and passion are all tools I can use to make a difference, and I try to put all of them to work to create change,” said Katherine Lorenz, President of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, in Forbes. Today, the philanthropy world is changing from one grounded in investment and donation to an all-inclusive, values based sector.
Philanthropists integrate social responsibility and advocating for a cause into the many different facets of their lives. Beyond solely investing, philanthropists can make a difference by integrating ideals of change into both their personal and professional lives. Think about different aspects of your every day life that can be altered, even slightly, to make a positive impact on the cause you care about.
5. Choose a cause you are passionate about. Dedicate yourself to a cause or organization that you are truly passionate about. Think about the kind of organization you would like to donate to, and what you would like to see come out of that act. Choose an issue that you deeply care about and want to advocate for. If you are working to become a philanthropist, you will be most successful if you are donating to a cause that you strongly believe in. Dig into the issues that interest you, and find an organization that fits with your own beliefs.
– Julia Thomas
Sources: Forbes, Philanthropy News Digest
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