A persistent misconception about philanthropists is that majority of them are wealthy global business leaders who made billions and decided along the way to give to charity as well. If you think about philanthropists and you look past the global captains of industry, more than likely you can also think of names in your local community. These philanthropists are not the billionaires -- they might not even be millionaires -- but they are business people who believe they and their businesses should have a more meaningful connection within their community in addition to making a profit. If you think a little more about philanthropy, you may find you would like to think of yourself in a similar vein as the people that spring to your mind. Practically anyone can be a philanthropist.
At its core, philanthropy means helping to develop and care for human beings. In its purest form, philanthropy benefits those who are receiving, but it also includes those who are giving of their time or money. A philanthropist does not have to be rich or poor. He or she merely has to care about improving humanity.
In today's world, consumers want to do business with companies that are socially minded. In fact, most people would rather support a business that is also serving the community in some way, in addition to making a profit. Therefore, it makes business sense and can positively impact your bottom line to think about how to become philanthropically engaged in your community if you haven’t done so already.
There are a few ways that you can become involved philanthropically, which include the following.
With so many great causes in the world today, a business owner must make one choice: the choice to be involved. One fallacy presents that many business leaders and entrepreneurs believe that they would be expected to make a substantial financial contribution as a company; however, the reality is that every little bit helps.
Many business leaders are not aware of community foundations, but they are excellent ways to support local community groups. Community foundations are tax-exempt entities which operate in the interest of the community. Community foundations accomplish their goal by creating endowment funds. A portion of those funds is set aside each year to help support local nonprofits through grants. The money that makes up the endowments within community foundations come from donor gifts, large and small. The pooled contributions are invested, and the earnings given to charity. These foundations are an ideal place for business leaders to consider donating because they help donors pool their giving and leverage the impact they are making within the community to philanthropy. Community foundations also provide donors with an opportunity to be more thoughtful and strategic in their giving to charity.
As you become more and more comfortable in being a philanthropic business leader in partnership with a community foundation, you will have the chance to research and use their expertise and resources to give more strategically. For instance, community foundations can provide information about estate planning and bequests, which can be a more significant tax incentive and legacy-builder and can have a greater impact on your favorite cause.
In the end, becoming a philanthropic business leader does not require assets at the levels of Gates or Bloomberg. All that is necessary is that you be aware and mindful of the meaning of the word, all the way back to its classical roots and that you then make it a point to get involved.