A philanthropist is someone who takes on society’s problems through donations of their time, resources, or money. Philanthropy has been a part of world culture for centuries, with nearly every culture emphasizing the need to help those less fortunate than ourselves. 


It’s commonly believed that to be a philanthropist, one has to be wealthy. That belief is false. Anybody can be a philanthropist, even those without a lot of money to spare. This blog will cover the first steps one needs to take to get started as a philanthropist.


Start with charity

Charity and philanthropy are often confused with one another, but they’re two different (but related) concepts. To put it simply, charity is merely donating money or goods to a cause. Philanthropy is about tackling the roots of society’s problems. The two often go hand in hand, but the terms should not be used interchangeably.


That being said, charity is a good jumping-off point for philanthropy. Aspiring philanthropists should start with a cause they want to support and determine a measurable outcome for their support. For example, maybe John wants to help his local school by donating handmade desks for the teachers and students. The cause would be supporting the local school, and the measurable outcome would be whatever number of desks John can build or acquire.


Establish long-term giving

Now that John has gotten his feet wet with a charitable donation, the next step to becoming a philanthropist would be establishing a long-term giving plan. This can be done in several ways, such as John donating a portion of his income to education charities or setting aside time to volunteer with educational non-profits. After all, philanthropy is more than just a one-time donation. It’s a lifelong commitment.



Just like in the professional world, networking is essential to the world of philanthropy. John can only give so much to the local school, but his friends Jane, Bill, and Linda can unite with him, and together they can give so much more. John has built an extensive network in his career. Now that he’s a philanthropist, it’s time for John to engage that network and use it to make a more significant impact.