If you would like to be a philanthropist don’t let money hold you back as money is the least of the hurdles to resolve. A farmer may have a forty acre produce farm or he may have a three thousand acre cash crop farm. No one would ever say one was less a farmer than the other, and the same is true of philanthropists.
To be a philanthropist you prepare yourself as with all other occupations by beginning in earnest, building up experience, developing contacts and relationships, essentially making yourself a lifetime student. You develop an expertise in those areas accessible to you and you acknowledge that other areas are not part of your personal philanthropy. If you have the resources to create a private foundation to work on continent wide needs, or the resources to build and endow an art museum wing, please do it. If instead of that kind of resource, you have a salaried position as a public school teacher or you are a pensioned retiree, you seek out other opportunities to achieve.
A wonderful place to begin your life as a philanthropist is your community foundation. With measured steps you build from what you already know to new experiences. With or without a title, one of your important tasks will be as a public witness keeping the public trust open and accessible. Ensuring that you have the information and understanding of how the community foundation operates is a major public service. Honesty and trust need full sun and good drainage, so your beginning experiences will retain importance for the rest of your life.
You don’t need a reading list to begin, you simply need to step up and say hello. Your goodwill, judgment, and commitment will guide you to the next one thousand experiences. None of this costs you money unless you have it to share, and that sharing is always your private affair. For such a rewarding occupation, philanthropy is surprisingly easy to enter, however staying a philanthropist takes work and more work. Charles Marlin