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Business, in general, comes with very obvious markers for how to define success. Profit margins, production amount, sales revenue– companies utilize these and countless other metrics to determine how much success a business is finding. However, businesses also have a specific goal: creating a product that meets demand and selling that product for a profit. So it’s a fairly linear path to determining success when the basic concepts of market capitalism can show you whether or not you’re successful. It’s much more challenging to decide the look of a successful philanthropic endeavor. Philanthropy individuals or foundations have goals that are antithetical to business goals. If a business’s goal is to develop a product and sell it, then charities’ goal is to create a product or service and give it away for as free as possible. So if we can’t look at sales charts or quarterly reports to determine philanthropic success, what would we do to measure it?

Personality Types

We all have different character traits that are specific to ourselves and developed from our experiences. It’s essential when looking at a successful philanthropic product to consider who makes up the philanthropy. What kind of people run it and sustain it? It requires both altruism and empathy to be an effective philanthropic organization. If you expect a kickback for your charity, you’re in the wrong field. The only kickback you should expect is the positive feelings attributed to doing good for your neighbors. Empathy is pivotal so that you can meet the needs of the people you are trying to serve. If you perform a philanthropic act but only through your lens, you probably aren’t providing a handy service to anyone. Yes, the altruism of thought is still there, but altruism without understanding another’s needs is ultimately ineffective and inefficient.

There is A Business Element

You want your philanthropists to have some level of business insight and experience. The thing about business people who’ve been successful: they usually care deeply about their investments. When you have philanthropists who look at their charity as an investment in a community, you know you have an individual who will approach the work as such. This personal investment even adds a “skin in the game” element for many business people that they crave. You want someone who will be invested and committed to the work because when society is bettered, we are all bettered. A rising tide lifts all ships.