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Why philanthropy isn't just for the wealthy and privileged.

Philanthropy is only for the ultra-rich and their heirs.

Philanthropy is the domain of those with privilege.

Philanthropy is disconnected from reality.

Philanthropists do not understand what it is to struggle on a daily basis.

Actually, no, not at all.


Philanthropy is Not a Dirty Word

And yet, being considered a philanthropist in France, and sometimes in other countries, is difficult for some to accept. No doubt for several reasons: :

  • Our relationship to money. In France we don't talk about how much we earn, nor about our personal wealth (inherited or acquired through years of hard work. Knowing that what we inherit is often thanks to the hard work of our parents/grandparents/great-grandparents, and/or via a family business which continues thanks to the hard work of subsequent generations.)

  • How we feel about success. In France, showing off your success can be seen as “bragging” or “showing off”.

  • The lack of appreciation of entrepreneurship and risk-taking. In France, we dislike both risk and mistakes, and are taught to avoid them at all costs. Interestingly, there are plenty of connections between an entrepreneur and a philanthropist.

Philanthropy and Civic Engagement

The world is full of inequality, and unfortunately social systems - or lack thereof depending on where we live - have not yet found the perfect solution.

We need generosity. In all sizes and shapes. So, let’s try to see philanthropy in a different light:

  • Everyone can be a philanthropist. There is no “minimum purchase”. Whether it's the pocket change or “tickets restaurant” that you give in the street, a donation to an association, or the creation of your own foundation or endowment fund.

  • There is no standard profile for creating a foundation or endowment fund. I have met philanthropists from many different social and economic backgrounds, families, entrepreneurs, and yes, heirs. Whether the inheritance is as simple as the modest family home purchased by their parents, or several million euros.

  • Foundations or endowment funds in France can choose the amount they donate each year. There are some who give €5,000 to €20,000 per year. And these donations have an impact.

  • Philanthropy offers a wealth of giving and engagement strategies. We can align investment strategy and donation strategy to have even more impact.

The desire to share one's success with others less fortunate in life is something to be valued in society. Let’s celebrate our differences – whether cultural, socio-economic, or otherwise. Let's learn from each other and grow together.

La philanthropie est pour tout le monde. Philanthropy is for everyone
Image by jcomp on Freepik

So. Let’s start over:

  • Philanthropy is for everyone, regardless of their background.

  • Philanthropy allows us to learn, innovate and share every day.

  • Philanthropy is there to help find solutions to the problems of our society: inequalities, injustices, environmental instability…and the list sadly goes on. Often the desire to act comes from personal experience.

Did this strike a chord for you? If so, don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d be happy to continue the conversation.


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