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What an Emerging Philanthropist Needs to Know

For some, stepping into the world of philanthropy is an easy transition because of their upbringing and financial position. For others, it may be entering a whole new realm. But no matter how you begin your philanthropic journey, you have one thing in common with other philanthropists, the desire to create a true impact in the world. And that’s a great thing.

Whether you start big or small, becoming philanthropic can be complex when it comes to why and where to donate your funds. First, with all the challenges the world and our communities face—poverty, environmental concerns, lack of educational and health resources—choices of where to give can be overwhelming. This is why it’s so important to create a strategy so you feel that you are truly making a difference.

When developing a plan to give, emerging philanthropists have several things to consider before making commitments to causes. First, it’s important to determine your motivation for giving. Ask yourself what you are passionate about—what are your values and your hopes for the future? Are there certain causes that resonate with those values and hopes? Are there causes that touch you personally? What are your hobbies? Do you love to fish, hike, create art, organize projects and events, learn new things, dance? Where do you find the most joy—when you spend time outdoors? When you create something? When you spend time with children or the elderly? The answers to these questions can help lead you to a specific passion or cause and from there, you can look at giving options.

After you determine the cause you wish to support, you may want to conduct some research. To contribute in the most informed way possible, immerse yourself in the topic to discover needs. For example, if you wish to learn about the needs in Anne Arundel County, you could turn to the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County’s (CFAAC) Community Needs Assessment Report: Poverty Amidst Plenty, a data-rich report that is published every three years. 

Then, you will need to determine which nonprofits support your cause so you know where to direct your funds. It’s important to research the nonprofits to make sure they are in good standing. A reliable place to explore is, where you can look up a nonprofit’s 501(c)(3) status, search 990s, find out about its mission, impact, programs and more. You can also support a CFAAC Field of Interest Fund, which combines your giving with other donors to make a larger impact in certain interest areas such as arts and culture, the environment, education and more. In addition, you can establish a Donor Advised Fund with CFAAC and direct the funds to the causes that mean the most to you. In both cases, CFAAC conducts the research for you as well as consistently examining a nonprofit’s status and standing. There are many options when it comes to giving through CFAAC. Read more.


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