Your guide to becoming a Philanthropist

Written and accurate as at: 10 August 2016

There is a common misconception that in order to give you need to be wealthy, and that the only thing you can give is money. But the truth is that there are many different financial and non-financial ways that you can give to others.

You may have heard of the term philanthropy before, but if you’re unfamiliar with it, philanthropy is when you voluntarily contribute your money, possessions or time to other people or organisations.

How you give to others can be done in either a casual or more structured way. Unplanned giving usually happens in response to a request or appeal from an event or friends and family, or when you’re motivated to do so through your personal interests or beliefs.

A more deliberate and planned approach to giving can be done on your own, or as part of a group where you pool your resources to give with greater impact. To give in this manner may be more financially inspired.

When it comes to giving there are some important considerations to make including:

1. What are your motivations for giving?

Giving should come from an authentic place, a desire to help, improve or support a cause that is meaningful to you.

2. What resources do you have to give?

Your resources can be financial or they can involve the other resources you possess such as your skills, knowledge or time that you could offer.

From a financial perspective, it pays to consider the amount of money you have to give and the period over which you wish to give it. Do you want to give it all at once, or in stages? Do you have capacity to give now or in the future?

It is common for people to leave provisions in their Will to gift property, cash or other assets to preferred charities. If this is appealing to you, seek professional advice on how best to proceed.

Making financial gifts may attract a tax-deduction if the gift receipt is a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status registered organisation. You need to keep receipts for these donations so you can include in your tax return.

If you’re planning on gifting your time or skills, be clear on how you can contribute and the amount of time you have available. Personal involvement can provide a sense of fulfilment and enable the charity or cause to benefit from experience and skills which they might otherwise not be able to obtain. If this is for you, find a cause that you’re passionate about and which you feel can most benefit from your time and contribution.

3. Are there any constraints or factors that may impact on your ability to give?

Whether you’re giving financially or in kind, consider how much control you wish to have and whether you have the time, resources and energy to support the cause. Sometimes you may need to weigh up several factors when it comes to your giving.

4. What causes or people do you wish to benefit from your giving?

There are so many deserving causes in the world, do your research and choose to support the causes that you feel most strongly about. It can help to ask yourself what is the problem that you’d like to fix or who are the people that you most want to help? Another factor may be your geographical location or desire to support causes in your local area.

As you can see, there are many causes and many ways that you can support your chosen causes. At its core, philanthropy is about sharing whatever you have to assist others in need. This may be money but it may also be something simple as a helping hand, an ear to listen, a compliment, a kind thought, or a sense of gratitude.