15 Ways to Practice the Art of Philanthropy

Try these tips for spreading the wealth

| September-October 2000

1. You don’t need to be rich to be a philanthropist. According to Independent Sector, an umbrella association for nonprofits, 82 percent of the money donated by individuals in this country comes from people with incomes under $60,000.

2. Spread love. People can give away millions, but if they mistreat others in their personal or work lives, then this hypocrisy is going to catch up with them and undermine their cause. It makes more sense to help people who spread love wherever they go build a viable organization than it does to support an established organization that still needs to learn about spreading love. Support really good people who have a total commitment to doing good in the world and who are willing to put their asses on the line to do it.

3. Seek out originality and imagination. If an idea makes you laugh out loud or say “Wow!” then support it.

4. Support unpopular truths. Look for people who speak from the truth of their experience, no matter how unpopular it is.

5. Fund players with a long view. Seek out people who are strategic and thoughtful about how their work fits within the context of what’s gone on before and what’s coming next.

6. Look out of the loop and under the radar. Support people no one else is supporting—people who are less likely to have connections or be endorsed by others who give away money.