How to become a Philanthropist…

November 12, 2010

Several months ago when 40 billionaires including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates signed a pledge to donate much of their wealth to charity, the New York Trust ran a clever ad with the headline: Why let the billionaires have all the fun?

When people hear the word foundation or philanthropistthey say not me because they feel it’s only for the very wealthy. Philanthropy—the love of humankind—is not just for billionaires. The term “philanthropist” applies to all the millions of charitable Americans who give generously to make the world a better place.

This is the message behind the series of ads the Greater New Orleans Foundation is launching this week in several print publications. The attention grabbing headlines are Anyone Can Be APhilanthropist, You Too Can Be A Philanthropist , and How to Become a Philanthropist.

For those who may not be able to afford a private foundation, an attractive alternative is the creation of your own foundation fund at a community foundation like the Greater New Orleans Foundation. There are 700 community foundations in the United States administering more than $31 billion in charitable funds. With a minimum opening balance of $5,000, donors name their own foundation fund, take an immediate tax deduction, and distribute the money over time to their favorite charities.

As the ad says, you don’t have to be a billionaire to feel like one.