Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have the fortune of Warren Buffett or Melinda Gates to be a philanthropist. Anyone who is purposeful and strategic in giving “time, money or valuable assets” to help make the world a better place possesses the qualities that define the philanthropic mindset.
The personality traits of philanthropists
Most charitable giving tends to be reactive. People give in response to requests from friends and family (such as walkathon pledges), houses of worship, employers, fundraising campaigns or by a desire to help those affected by catastrophes such as war and natural disasters.
Philanthropists, on the other hand, tend to be:
- Self-aware: They know who they are, where they came from, and what they wish to achieve.
- Focused: They narrow their activities on addressing a defined range of issues and causes.
- Proactive: They actively research and evaluate nonprofit organizations
- Engaged: They donate both their time and money to organizations.
- Results-focused: They expect organizations to prove that their support is achieving concrete results.
- Strategic: They’ll often use charitable giving vehicles to consolidate and distribute charitable assets.
Identifying your own philanthropic personality
You don’t need formal training to be a philanthropist. But a little bit of self-analysis can help you gain that all-important self-awareness that can make your philanthropy more effective and fulfilling. Answering the following questions can help you identify your motivations for giving, the way you are giving today, and any changes you might like to make.
1. When you think about the world (or your community), what are the things you’d most like to preserve and strengthen—and what are the things you’d like to change or solve? Examples might include:
- Make sure my town’s high school sports teams have the best equipment and coaching they need to be competitive
- Protect wilderness areas from development
- Find a cure for breast cancer
- Improve the quality of life for homeless people
- Enable deserving financially disadvantaged high school students in my town to attend my alma mater
2. How have any of the following factors influenced the way you give now?
- Your religious, education or employment background
- Your parents’, spouse’s or children's charitable giving activities and priorities
- Historical events (such as the Civil Rights era or the Great Recession of 2008-2009)
- Life-changing personal events (such as the death of a loved one to a terminal illness)
- Charitable organizations that made a positive impact on the life of a friend or loved one
- Other influencers
3. What influences your decision to support a particular nonprofit organization or cause?
- Recommendations/asks from friends, business associates or family members
- My employer supports this organization
- My house of worship supports this organization
- Mentions of the organization in the news or social media
- I research a specific cause that interests me, and then find organizations addressing the issue
- Other factors
4. What percentage of your donations support local, national and/or international organizations?
5. Beyond donations, how else do you support nonprofit organizations?
- Volunteer for the organization
- Provide pro-bono services
- Serve on volunteer committees
- Serve as board member
- Promote the organizations via word-of-mouth or social media
6. When you give money or time to an organization, what do you expect in return?
- Formal acknowledgement of my gift
- Receipts for tax-deductions
- Documentation from the organization showing the impact of your gift
- Access to staff members, executives and board members
- I have no expectations at all
7. Thinking about your answers to the previous questions, is there anything you’d like to change? These could include:
- Focusing my philanthropy on causes and organizations that are most important to me
- Spending more time volunteering
- Passing along my philanthropic values to my children
- Developing a more structured and strategic approach to charitable giving
- Other changes
- I don't want to change anything
Note that there are no right or wrong answers here. And you may find after answering them that you’re perfectly satisfied with the way you’re giving right now. But if any of the results inspire you to think about giving in a new way, we encourage you to continue this path of philanthropic self-discovery.
And if you would like to discuss ways to adopt a more strategic approach to charitable giving that aligns with your financial plan, please feel to contact us at any time.
Copyright 2018 Canby Financial Advisors