Traditionally, philanthropy has involved giving or raised large sums of money to charitable endeavors. While on the surface, this seems like a positive thing, there is a small pitfall.  Many charitable organizations are founded by people who have a desire to “do good” but don’t necessarily have the business skills necessary to turn donated and raised funds into a strategic plan designed with maximum philanthropic impact in mind. Some may even use the money in ways that are borderline fraudulent.

In 1985, nearly $100 million dollars was raised for famine relief in Africa through a global concert known as Live Aid. It turns out, however, that the famine in question was actually the result of a civil war and the money actually ended up in the hands of a despot dictator that used it to build one of the largest armies in Africa. In subsequent years, celebrities regularly came under fire for raising money to support causes that were either illegitimate or improperly managed.

These events brought to light the need to do more than simply give money or raise money for charities. Over the past few decades, both celebrities and wealthy philanthropists have begun doing far more than simply raising money or donating to a cause. They are actually starting their own foundations or getting directly and personally involved with organizations in order to provide much more than funding.

These “philanthropreneurs” offer a number of functions that are generally more closely associated with business endeavors rather than charitable organizations. Common examples include their expertise, mentorship, logistical support, and guidance but they also offer a more personal, relationship-building component for those that get directly involved on a regular basis. These philanthropreneurs do more than just write a check and move on with their lives. They are personally involved in the planning and execution of the required support. To them, it’s personal.  

Celebrities have always been good at raising money, but they lack the time and resources required to ensure that their money is being put to good use. Philanthropreneurs, on the the other hand, often acquire a useful set of skills and habits during their journey to become successful businesspersons. It is these habits and skills which can  be applied to charitable organizations in order to help them maximize their endeavors and put funds to better use. In order to be a successful philanthropreneur, you have to be willing to do far more than just write a check.