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Effective philanthropy requires a heart-felt yet strategic approach. “Good intentions are not enough,” Philanthropy Advisor Caroline Piraud explains. “As a philanthropist, you want to be passionate about giving while knowing it’s actually achieving a positive impact.” No matter your financial situation, she believes the gift of giving is accessible to all. Here is her four-T approach to channelling your inner philanthropist.

Step one: find your cause
What’s close to your heart? Caroline asks clients this question as they turn personal values and passions into impactful acts of philanthropy. Global trends among wealthy philanthropists include education, health, arts, culture and sport, and the environment. But, as Caroline is quick to point out: “You don’t need a lot of money to be a philanthropist, because everyone has something to give. Everyone can be a philanthropist, even children.”

So, what moves you and your family? Which topics dominate dinner-table discussions and spark heartfelt debate? “The United Nations sustainable development goals are a great source of inspiration,” Caroline suggests. “Philanthropy is about positive change and, while there’s probably a legacy you wish to leave, it’s a great idea to interview your kids about the future they wish to grow into.” Importantly, she reminds us about a potential pitfall of charitable work: “Remember to check with beneficiaries about what’s actually needed. No matter how well-intentioned, our outside-in perspectives don’t always match the reality of what’s a priority, most impactful or even beneficial”.

 

Giving time is just as important as giving money.

Caroline Piraud, Philanthropy Advisor

Step two: your personal four-Ts
The next step on your personal philanthropic journey is to consider all of your philanthropic resources, beyond just the financial ones. This is the time to ask yourself: What do I have to give? Here the four-T’s come into play: your time, your talent, your treasures and your ties. 

  • Time: “Giving time is just as important as giving money,” Caroline explains. “Firstly, there is the gift of your presence, which is not to be underestimated in a world where loneliness is often referred to as an epidemic with real social, health and economic impacts. And secondly, there’s no shortage of tasks that need volunteers, such as shopping for those in a risk group.” 
  • Talent: Your combination of talent is unique to you. While accounting, board experience and fundraising are skills frequently associated with philanthropy, it pays to cast the net much wider. Aged-care often welcomes guest entertainers, parents of newborns appreciate meals trains, and mentorship programmes seek diverse and knowledgeable mentors. “Focusing on talent is a great way for kids to flex their philanthropical muscles,” Caroline says. “Keen bakers could gift treats to socially isolated neighbours, budding musicians could host a fundraiser, and older kids could pass on skills they’ve mastered.”
  • Treasure: Perhaps your philanthropic budget stretches into the hundreds of thousands or maybe your child has the sum total of this week’s pocket money to give. It’s about maximising the positive impact of what you can afford to spend, even if that’s simply aligning existing outflows with your cause, such as shopping small or local. Another tip from Caroline is to think broadly: “Would time-sensitive, one-off donations be more impactful abroad due to currency conversion rates? Get researching and get clever about what you’ve got to give and the causes you’re passionate about.”
  • Ties: There’s a reason the saying ‘It’s not what you know but who you know’ exists. Caroline suggests screening your personal network of family, sports teammates, friends and work colleagues to see who you can join forces with. “Leveraging one another’s skillsets and networks can amplify your impact,” she explains. “Or perhaps your role is to be the catalyst, to connect people who together can bring about great change”.

Step three: bringing it all together
In sharing your gifts with the world, it pays to be as clear and structured as possible. Know your goals, your personal focus and giving strategy, and check your actions are both impactful and positive. “A clear strategy defines investment amounts and timelines. See if it makes sense to set-up your own charitable structure, consider your preference for short- or long-term engagements, know how to stop emotions overwhelming decisions, and identify who’ll keep an eye on your financial safety,” Caroline recommends. “Also, be as well-versed as possible on how to find the right partner or charity organisation, the pros and cons of local versus global engagement, how to effectively measure your impact and any tax implications”.

Once you’ve worked through these steps, it becomes clear that we’ve all got something to give, no matter our age or financial situation. The ability to turn your time, talent, treasures and ties into a positive impact for others is empowering. And, as Caroline continues to remind us, it’s never too early to get started.