There are many different types of philanthropists
To a certain extent, all donors are beneficiary-centric as usually people give to charity because they want to improve the lives of societies disadvantaged. A beneficiary-centric donor wants to have the best chance of supporting a particular group, and so sees their philanthropy from that lens.
If you are a beneficiary-centric donor, then it is likely that the plight or circumstances of a particular group of beneficiaries will be most important to you, either because you think their circumstances are particularly unfair, or possibly because you have some sort of personal connection to that group.
Although the temptation may be to restrict your donation to a specific cause or program it is important to remember that to be effective, an organisation needs to be able to invest in itself and constantly research and study the efficacy of its programs. To allow for this, it is helpful to give general support or unrestricted donations.
A local champion is a donor who is embedded into their local community, and cares a lot about improving the welfare and livelihoods of those within.
You may have a preference for supporting smaller charities that do more direct work, as they seem more embedded into their communities and therefore align with your values.
Local givers tend to be motivated by the idea that ‘charity begins at home’ and, rather than impact, are more interested in being closely connected to the organisations and causes they support.
Although the temptation may be to restrict your donation to a specific cause or program to ensure that local communities receive as much money as possible, it is also important to remember that to be effective, an organisation needs to be able to invest in itself. To allow for this, it is helpful to give general support or unrestricted donations.
A systems changer tries to change or improve the conditions that hold or cause an issue. For example, rather than support a charity that provides afterschool clubs for children in one district, they support organisations that research and push-forward the best interventions for improving education outcomes for all children throughout Hong Kong.
If you are a systems changer, you are likely to be more comfortable with risk and uncertainty. The reason being that changing the way a system, or part of a system, works is complicated and often involves government.
Despite its potential for impact, systems change in any area is very underfunded and neglected. In part this is because of the risks involved, but also because most donors like to feel more connected to beneficiaries and direct work on the ground.
So, systems change is really an excellent area to focus your efforts on as a philanthropist and can be paired with more direct approaches.
A venture philanthropist (VP), as the name suggests, takes a venture capital-type approach to their giving. For example, VPs have a ‘portfolio’ of organisations with a strong track record of success or working on innovative solutions to problems that can be easily scaled-up if successful.
In addition to money, VP’s contribute their time and skills to the organisations they support to help organisations grow and solve operational or strategic challenges. You will not be averse to organisations investing in themselves.
Venture philanthropy is often a long-term relationship between a charity and donor, which is especially good for charities as it enables them to plan for years to come.
If you are a VP, it is likely that you know the organisation well, will not be averse to overhead costs and the needs of charities to invest in themselves, you will trust the team and their ability to get things done and be compensated for it.