Traditional charity has often taken the form of large donations from wealthy benefactors like Carnegie or Rockefeller. These days, however, a new brand of philanthropy is rising in the ranks: Those who want to give back to their communities don’t just hand over a check, but provide funding over the course of their careers, as well as donating time, ideas, and manpower to making their philanthropic dreams become reality.
These folks are being called “philanthrepreneurs,” and you’ve probably heard of some of them. Microsoft’s Bill and Melinda Gates, Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, and AOL’s Steve Case have all done more than just throw money at the social problems near and dear to their hearts; they’ve also brought their skills and networking abilities to the forefront of their giving.
A recent article in The Guardian describes “philanthropreneurship” as involving four elements:
- Passion for making the world a better place, particularly for the underprivileged.
- An element of giving, whether in time, money, expertise, or all of the above.
- Creativity and novel approaches to problem solving.
- High quality leadership to direct, organize, and influence others in positive ways.
Unlike previous modes of philanthropy, pilanthropreneurship involves working together as a team, sharing resources and skills across a host of organizations and individuals to reach a particular outcome. Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative, for instance, brings together thousands of world leaders to combat different problems and come up with sustainable solutions.
Philanthropreneurship is also changing the way businesses work from the get-go. More and more businesses are pursuing philanthropy and entrepreneurship at the same time, rather than waiting to amass a fortune and donate a percentage in their twilight years. The philanthropreneur business model involves working donations of time, effort, and money into the very core of how a business operates, such as Salesforce’s 1-1-1 philosophy.
Other examples: Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of eBay, along with his wife, donated $100 million to Tufts University to help develop the microfinance industry. This donation included bringing together government, business, and non-profit sectors to work together. Jeffrey S. Skoll, former president of eBay, founded the world’s largest organization dedicated to social entrepreneurship, which helps develop and fund revolutionary programs in over 100 countries.
The future of philanthropic giving is looking bright, particularly with a shift toward more sustainable philanthropreneurship.