How to Become a Philanthropist

by Elysian Magazine

The dictionary defines “philanthropy” as “good will to fellow members of the human race,” something that is “especially an active effort to promote human welfare.” I would add to this that philanthropy must include promoting the welfare of animals and the environment.

At the end of the day, philanthropy in all its forms is about service.

In 2016, I wrote and published the book “Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What You Give,” which includes a preface by philanthropic consultant Scott Elkins and an introduction by philanthropist Georgina Bloomberg.

Anyone can become a philanthropist. My modern-day definition of philanthropy casts aside the notion that only the wealthy can contribute to causes that matter. In truth, we all have something to offer and therefore we all can become philanthropists.

And so, how do we become one? Getting involved in the world of philanthropy involves giving your time, knowledge, and available resources. If you do not have the financial resources to give, you can become a philanthropist by giving your time and knowledge to a cause. Your time and talent are worth so much to organizations that rely on volunteers to survive and thrive.

Never underestimate the value of what you can give or do. To think otherwise is to not believe in your own ability to make a difference. But in fact, we all have something to offer, and we can all make a difference. Personally, I believe those who have resources have an obligation to give.

There is great value in giving. Giving is self-fulfilling and makes us feel complete. Even giving back for just a small period of time can enrich our lives.

When we give, we feel fulfilled knowing that we are not just thinking of ourselves or our family, but rather about those outside of our sphere who need our help. We live in a world with great disparities between those who have resources and those who do not. We narrow that divide when we donate our time, knowledge, and available resources. We bring people together and help reduce the divide when we give.

So how should you begin your journey as a philanthropist? Start by looking for a cause you would like to support. Simply follow your passions and then get involved where you believe you can make a difference and where there is a need. You will quickly learn there is no shortage of organizations and causes that could use your help.

If finding a cure for cancer interests you, look for a charity that funds cancer research. If you are interested in helping people or animals affected by a national disaster, sadly there is plenty of work to do on that front, too.

Once you find a cause that is of great interest to you, you will be more compelled to get involved and stay involved. Then if a charity has a local chapter, it will be easier for you to do volunteer work and stay active.

You will also want to do some research on the charity you choose. Most charities are well run – but research is important. My book discusses in detail how to choose a charity and the research you should do.

Remember, your time is valuable – and you can use it to make a difference and can change lives.

Start your journey as a philanthropist and make a difference. The power of giving and the fulfillment of giving will change your life – and those of the people you serve – all for the better!


The ideas of this piece are reprinted from the author’s book, “Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What You Give.” All rights are reserved, and it cannot be reprinted without the permission of the author. Text copyright Jean Shafiroff.

This book is available on and

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