The age of the philanthropreneurs

The age of the philanthropreneurs

In pursuit of solutions

At its core, philanthropy transcends the act of simply giving away money; it embodies the pursuit of a brighter, more just, equitable, and sustainable world. Philanthropy acknowledges the grit and grime, the cracks and imperfections of our global system, and seeks innovative solutions to rectify those flaws. Entrepreneurs, with their innate problem-solving abilities, are naturally inclined to excel in this field. They possess a unique acumen and resourcefulness, which, when combined with their wealth, enables them to drive the change they desire to see in the world.

Entrepreneurs not only make exceptional philanthropists, but many are also drawn to philanthropy as a second calling. After successfully navigating the challenges of building and selling their businesses, they often find themselves seeking new avenues to remain active and engaged. Philanthropy presents an opportunity for them to channel their passion and dedication towards meaningful causes, creating a legacy beyond their entrepreneurial ventures.

Moreover, entrepreneurs are acutely aware that the sale of their business can significantly increase their liquid wealth, which may impact their families and children in various ways, not always positively. Engaging in philanthropy can  play a vital role in providing purpose to this newfound wealth, especially for their children. It serves as a powerful tool to keep them grounded, instilling values of empowerment rather than entitlement. Children, more perceptive than we often give them credit for, can benefit from witnessing their parents' commitment to making a positive impact on society.

But how does an entrepreneur with little to no experience in philanthropy embark on this journey? Here's a guide to becoming a successful philanthropreneur, leveraging your entrepreneurial skills and mindset to create meaningful change in the world.

Entrepreneurial philanthropy goes beyond mere ideology; it's a commitment to combining entrepreneurial vigour and adaptability with charitable endeavours.
— Chistoph Courth

1. Identify the opportunity

Just as every business starts with an idea, every act of philanthropy begins with a cause. What issues are you most passionate about? Education, poverty alleviation, climate change, healthcare, biodiversity loss or maybe something else? Choose a cause that resonates with you, as this will keep you invested and motivated in your philanthropic journey.

2. Focus

As you did with your business, zone in on one challenge or issue and mobilise all your efforts to addressing that in its entirety. If you spread yourself too thinly, spraying and praying, your likelihood of success will be diminished.

3. Do your research

Once you've identified a cause, take the time to learn about it. Understand the problem, its root causes, and what solutions are currently being implemented. This will help you identify where your contribution can have the most impact.

4. Leverage your skills and network

As an entrepreneur, you have a unique set of skills and a robust network. Use these to your advantage. Perhaps you can offer your business acumen to a non-profit, or maybe your connections can help raise funds or awareness. Your entrepreneurial skills can be an invaluable asset in the world of philanthropy.

5. Measure your impact

Just as you would in a business, measure the impact of your philanthropic efforts. This will help you understand if your contributions are making a difference and where improvements can be made. Use metrics and indicators relevant to the cause you're supporting.

6. Be patient

Change takes time. Don't expect immediate results. Just as building a successful business takes time and persistence, so does effectingmeaningful change through philanthropy. 

7. Involve your family

Family philanthropy brings enormous benefits both to the causes you care about, but also your family too. Whether you unite around a commoncause or give space to different members to pursue their own passions, engaging together is invaluable.

8. Collaborate

Philanthropy is not a solo endeavour. Collaborate with existing organizations, philanthropists or networks that are working on the cause you care about. This can help you avoid reinventing the wheel and allow you to contribute more effectively. And when you collaborate with organisations and experts, collaborate fairly, become a partner not a benefactor, embracing a data-informed, trust based approach. 

9. Be open to learning 

The world of philanthropy is complex and constantly evolving and just because you were successful in the business world, doesn’t mean you will be in the philanthropic. So seek advice from philanthropy and impact strategists and be open to learning, listening and adapting your approach and style as you gain more experience and insight.

10. Think systemically

Traditional philanthropy often focuses on being the pain relief rather than addressing the root causes of the illness. Focus on systemic interventions that challenge inequitable structures, advocate for policy changes, and support initiatives aimed at dismantling the root causes of social/environmental issues.

Entrepreneurial philanthropy goes beyond mere ideology; it's a
commitment to combining entrepreneurial vigour and adaptability with charitable endeavours. Just as investors seek self-sustainability in businesses, the same should be expected from philanthropy. The skills that make one a successful entrepreneur can similarly drive impactful philanthropy. The work of entrepreneurial philanthropists echoes beyond traditional charity and aid, offering sustainable solutions to enduring problems, rather than temporary fixes. Without the entrepreneurial approach, monetary contributions risk providing only fleeting relief.

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