When people think of philanthropists, they usually think of billionaires like Warren Buffett or Charlier Munger. But being a philanthropist is not about donating billions, or even millions. It’s about donating any amount of time or money to a worthy cause.
Today, students in colleges across the United States are being taught how they can be philanthropists – without having millions in their bank accounts.
This type of philanthropy is focused on taking a more hands-on approach. The class is given a set amount of money – usually ten thousand dollars. They then decide which local charities to give it to. Classes like this are now being given at about eighty schools in the United States.
The program began in 1999 at Northern Kentucky University. In the nineteen years since then, students have given away more than one million dollars through this class.
The Philanthropy Lab is an initiative that was created by Geoffrey Raynor, based on experiential philanthropy. It’s present in about 20 universities today. What makes this approach interesting is that it’s become popular in many colleges where the students come from a wealthy background – like Princeton and the University of Chicago.
But a student does not need to come from wealth to be enrolled, or even be seeking wealth. As long as they are interested in learning about how they can help solve critical issues through philanthropy, they are welcomed to enroll.
Do These Classes Work?
Over 600 students from Northern Kentucky University who took the experiential philanthropy class were surveyed. The results showed that a student who took the class was more interested in charitable efforts than a student who did not take the class. Additionally, the students who took the class were also more knowledgeable about local issues, as well as the charities in place to help correct them.
The survey concludes by saying that the classes are worthwhile, because it makes a student more interested and involved in philanthropy.
The Only Drawback
The obvious drawback for these types of classes is providing the money to donate. However, there are federal efforts, as well as established philanthropists, that make the funds available.
Students invest in education. Now, through this investment, they’ll know how to invest in their communities after graduation.