I want to be a philanthropic…how do I start?
Congratulations! Giving to your community is a worthy goal. You know, you've already likely achieved that goal. Do you volunteer at your local food bank? Give to your church, synagogue, mosque, meeting house, etc? Serve on the board of a local non-profit organization? Call yourself a philanthropist or good citizen, or nice person?
If you're talking about making donations in a thoughtful and organized manner, there are many ways to do so. The easiest? Writing checks to the nonprofits you care about. Yes, there are structures out there that sound more "official," such as a donor- advised fund or a private foundation. And you may want to look into the pros and cons of these entities. But in each of these choices (and there are others), you start the same way. Answer the question:
“What am I trying to accomplish?”
Well, (I hear you say), “I already told you. I want to be philanthropic.”
May I suggest that you go beyond this to wanting to be effective with your philanthropy? If you don't want to, then you should keep doing what you're already doing and stop reading this. You don't need me.
If you do want to practice effective — and rewarding — philanthropy, then answering that question is your first step. Some examples?
You get the idea. There are so many worthy goals. But the simple act of choosing a goal allows you to make all your following decisions so much easier and it gives you a chance to achieve something worthwhile.
By mid-September 2013, So You Want to Be a Philanthropist will be available on Amazon. This lively, jam-packed book will allow those thinking about setting up a family foundation to ask the questions they should — before they do. And for those with a foundation that isn't functioning as they'd hoped, this book can help get you back on the right track.
I'm excited about your reactions and look forward to hearing what you think!