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Michelle Rittenhouse

6 steps to becoming a philanthropist

  • Philanthropy sounds intimidating. It doesn’t have to be.
  • Written Mon Aug 20 2018

Philanthropy sounds intimidating. It doesn’t have to be.

Picture a philanthropist. Perhaps you picture Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, or maybe even Bono or Oprah. Sure, there are billionaires who are amazingly generous and have made giving back a big part of their lives.

Philanthropy doesn’t mean you need to donate billions, millions or even hundreds. Starting small is how most people get started. Anyone can be a philanthropist.

phi·lan·thro·pist

fəˈlanTHrəpəst/

noun

A person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.

Philanthropy simply means a love of humanity. Giving can come in many forms - financial contributions, volunteering, or donating goods.

Steps to being a philanthropist:

1. Pick your cause.

Support what you care about - whether it’s protecting the environment, helping the homeless, or another cause. Many donors connect to causes they’ve been personally affected by, such as the #MeToo movement, finding it’s easy to empathize with people in similar situations. Others support causes overlooked by the general population. Support what matters to you.

2. Set a giving goal.

Like investing, having a strategy helps. Figuring out how much to give can be tough as there is no perfect answer. Every little bit counts, so start small until you’re comfortable giving more. One rule of thumb: each paycheck, consider donating one hour salary to charity. If you’re looking for a comparison, American households donate $2,449 per year on average, or $204 per month.

3. Focus on impact.

Researching charities can be hard. To guide them in the evaluation and grant making process, many philanthropists create foundations and hire advisors. Don’t fret if you’re not planning to hire your your own advisor. ALMA’s here for you. We evaluate the financial information required by the IRS, receive recommendations of nonprofits from experts in each sector, and require that any featured nonprofit can demonstrate how donations turn into tangible impact.

4. Support multiple nonprofits.

There’s no need to pick just one nonprofit. Similar to mutual funds, start by identifying a range of nonprofits that connect to a cause your care about. If you care about homelessness, there’s no need to decide between shelters, providing meals or youth homelessness. Consider a range of nonprofits that include both short term and long terms solutions.

5. Get started.

Begin your financial contributions and find other ways to help the nonprofits. Seek out volunteer opportunities, donate clothes or used goods the nonprofits need, and spread the word for the nonprofits. Sharing your philanthropy can be an easy way to amplify your impact, get your friends involved.

6. Reflect & rebalance.

Just like keeping on top of your finances, set aside time to check in on your charitable giving. Evaluate if you feel satisfied and proud of your giving decisions. If so, consider increasing your commitment. Congrats on taking your first steps toward being a philanthropist!