An excerpt from The Philanthropy Handbook by Tej Kohli
1. Be Ready To Adapt
In becoming a philanthropist, you cannot simply become a kinder and more benevolent version of yourself. You will also need to behave differently, think differently and change your outlook. Be prepared for the fact that many of the formulas upon which you have built your success simply will not work in the ways that you would normally expect them to as you give your wealth away.
2. Choose Your Shape
Start by operating as an individual, perhaps giving through a donor advised fund, whilst you determine what colour and shape of philanthropy will best match with your strengths and objectives. Only once that you are accruing results do you need to think about formalising a foundation or other legal entity.
3. Seek Learning Experiences
Do not jump into supporting ‘well known’ causes simply because they are well known. By definition, the causes that are lesser known are typically in greater need of your help and are where you can have a greater and more immediate impact. Seek out learning experiences that enable you to better understand what these unmet needs are within these communities that are most in need of your help.
4. Define Your Values
Build toward a place where you have clearly defined the values and precepts that will guide your philanthropy and then seek to define your precise mission and a timeframe for achieving it. Be clear about how you will assess whether a prospective project will contribute toward your mission and then shape your decision making around that.
5. Embrace Technology
Be prepared to be a steward of change. We exist at a time of unprecedented opportunity, where rapid technological progression is enabling new solutions that were beyond all imagination just one generation ago. Artificial intelligence, robotics and genomics have the potential to vastly and quickly improve every aspect of our lives. They must be stewarded so that the promise of technology disperses its benefits to those who are most in need. Being a philanthropist today also means having to be a technologist.
6. Do Things And Fund Things
Rather than simply giving money, you should directly instigate or support at the grassroots level those projects and activities which are within the realms of your understanding and abilities. Then supplement this by providing funding to partners or to projects that can help to achieve those parts of your mission which require specialist expertise and capabilities. ‘Do’ the things that you are able to do because they are within your realms of ability and understanding. And ‘fund’ those things which are not.
7. Multiply Your Impact
Divert your wealth into philanthropic activities in the developing world where you can yield an ‘impact multiplier’, or into first world projects that in the fullness of time will also yield much-needed benefits into the developing world. But do not restrict yourself from also undertaking projects within your own community: be a good a local citizen too.
8. Share Your Stories
Sharing stories is absolutely essential for successful philanthropy and will amplify the impact that you are able to have. Sharing stories makes the major issues that you are seeking to solve more ‘real’ in people’s imaginations; and more importantly creates reach and engagement into adjacent fields of expertise that will surface new opportunities for partnerships and collaborations that will also accelerate your mission.
9. Fail Fast, Fail Forwards
Be prepared that some of your projects will fail or will not achieve the outcome that you had hoped for. You must learn to accept that when you are dealing with emotive ‘hot button’ issues, especially within communities that are deprived or desperate, then it is inevitable that you will also encounter failures.
10. Be Who You Are
Be a philanthropist on your own terms and do not be swayed by the actions of others. No matter what you do there will always be people who want to bring you down. But they only want to see you down because it makes them feel better about themselves. Don’t give them that satisfaction. Keep building yourself. Keep giving back. And keep helping others.
I wish you the best of luck and great success in your future philanthropic endeavours.