An introduction to philanthropy

The word philanthropy is derived from two greek words:

  • Philos – which means loving
  • Anthropos – which means humankind

This means philanthropy can literally be defined as ‘loving humankind’ or ‘a love of humankind’.

In modern-day vernacular, philanthropy is used to describe benevolent acts or other good works that help others or society as a whole. A philanthropist is a person who donates time, money, experience, skills or talent to help create a better world.

This means anyone can be a philanthropist.

Philanthropy is often used interchangeably with the word ‘charity’, but it’s important to note that they are subtly different:

  • Charity tends to be a more immediate, hands-on response to societal needs.
  • Philanthropy tends to focus more strategically on the causes of systemic issues and how to tackle those issues at a root level.

An overly simplistic example is that charity is the equivalent of delivering food to a community in need, while philanthropy seeks to provide the means by which that community can provide food for themselves.

Many of our HPH staff practise philanthropy by:

  1. Volunteering time to organisations that cannot afford their professional services.
  2. Directing money towards certain organisations.

One of the organisations I personally direct money to is Impact100 WA.

The topic of ‘getting started with philanthropy’ is something that often comes up in chats I have with clients, so I thought it was worth sharing a bit more about Impact100 WA. I feel their model is quite a good one for those looking to get started on a journey of structured giving.

The Impact100 concept

Impact100 was born in the US and brought to Australia (WA was the first Australian chapter) 10 years ago. The premise is simple:

100 people donate $1000 to provide a transformational grant of $100,000 to an under-served cause or population. 

Crucially, the entire $1000 donated goes towards the grant. Impact100 WA grants go exclusively to WA-based, not-for-profit organisations.

What drew me to Impact100 WA

I first became aware of Impact100 WA in 2014. At the time I was in the fortunate position of being able to provide financial assistance to an organisation, but with so many worthy causes out there, it was hard to know where to direct those funds.

Impact100 WA provided an avenue for me to get started in philanthropy in a way I could afford, while also exposing me to a number of WA-based charities and organisations I would never have known about.

In my eight years of involvement, Impact100 has taught me a lot including:

  1. You don’t have to give a lot to make a meaningful difference
  2. Collective giving is a great way to share the experience with others who have similar philosophies
  3. There is a technical side of philanthropy that is important to know and understand

How Impact100 works

Impact100 is a form of structured giving.

While people are more than welcome to simply donate $1000 and then find out which organisation received the $100,000 grant at the end of the year, most donors opt to play an active part in the process. And the process is quite extensive:

  • The grant round for the year opens in March
  • In April, a workshop for potential applicants is held
  • In May, the grant round closes, and the assessment of applications by the Financial Review Committee commences
  • In June, all donors are invited to take part in Focus Area assessment groups and the initial assessment evening. From here, the donors vote on which applications will move forward to the ‘full application’ part of the process
  • Those full applications are submitted in July
  • In August, all donors are invited to take part in site visits to the shortlisted applicants
  • In September the Final Assessment Evening is held where all final applications and site visits are discussed before the donors vote on who makes the final list to present at the Grant Awards Night.
  • The final Annual Grant Awards Dinner is the gala event for the year, held in October at Frasers in Kings Park. At this dinner, the final 5-6 charities present to the donors for 5-6 minutes each. On completion of the presentations, every donor gets a vote. No vote is any more important than another, and every vote counts. Once all the votes are in, they are then counted, and the winners are announced. I never knew giving money away could be so much fun.

While only one organisation (or two or three, depending on how many donors there are in a given year) can take home the transformational amount of $100,000, the cool thing about Impact100 is this: many donors connect so strongly with organisations that don’t win the major grant, they choose to direct funds to them in addition to the $1000 they direct to Impact100.

Other forms of philanthropy

As mentioned, collective giving (such as the Impact100 model) is just one of many ways to practise philanthropy.

Other forms of structured giving include Private or Public ancillary funds. You can also offer up your professional services at no cost to help run an organisation.

My colleague Jeff Petrie was on the financial review committee at Impact100 for several years. Today he donates his time to the Armadale Cricket Club and Armadale Gosnells Land Care. As Jeff notes:

There are some wonderful organisations around and inspiring people that run them. Not everything is for everyone – find something that suits you or your passionate about, or with people you like. Try different things and see if you like them. The more you enjoy something, the more likely it is you will continue to donate time and money to that cause/organisation.

My brother Rob (HPH CEO) and our colleague Kelly Exeter both invest significant time and energy as Board members of the Perth Basketball Association (Perth Redbacks). Both have also donated funds to the club as sponsors.

Our advisors Zac Leeson, Thomas Sweeny and Emma Cork all donate their time to various organisations.

Zac is involved with the not-for-profit charity Leading Youth Forward (LYF) for a number of years. LYF exists to support and empower at-risk teens aged 12 to 15 in Perth.

Thomas is the Treasurer of the Hero Hunter Foundation.

Emma is a member and Director of Perth Rotary Club. Her involvement there has been in providing assistance to Cambodia Family Support and governance support for their projects.

Feel free to start small

As I said at the top of this piece – everyone has the ability to be a philanthropist. So many of our clients at HPH have told me they have the desire to practise philanthropy but no real idea of where to start.

I hope this article and some final inspiring words from Jeff might be just the nudge you need to get going:

Even small things count. If everyone does a little, great things happen.

1 thought on “An introduction to philanthropy”

  1. Gail and Russell Dunne

    This is a great article. Thank you for thinking to put this out there. It is so very important to understand the philanthropic power within each of us but also intriguing to learn about Impact100 WA 🙂

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