Philanthropists are people who strive to support the welfare of people around them, often through generous donations to nonprofit organizations. While philanthropy as a concept is positive and beneficial, as in many other professions, there are misconceptions and sometimes controversies about the effectiveness of different nonprofits and the way they do their work. Similarly, while donating to good causes is laudable, some people have negative views towards philanthropists and sometimes question their motives. This blog will break down some of the misconceptions about philanthropists specifically.


Performance Activism

Some people assume philanthropists just give time and money to make themselves look good. Especially for prominent figures, it is sometimes speculated that they only give back to promote their image and reputation or check something off of a list of expectations, rather than actually caring about the cause. While this may, unfortunately, be true in some cases, it is inaccurate to assume that all philanthropists are only performance activists. Many large and prominent donors have personal connections to the cause they choose to invest in and form long-term, productive partnerships with the organizations doing the work.


Only Care About Tax Write-Offs

Similar to the previous point, a common assumption is that philanthropy is all about tax write-offs, especially for wealthy individuals. While it is true that there are tax benefits to giving away money, and there are likely individuals who take advantage of that fact, it is still a misconception that taxes are a primary motivator. True philanthropists give money because they care about the cause, and any tax benefits are just an added bonus to their impact through their philanthropic giving.


Give Irresponsibly

Another common criticism of philanthropists is irresponsible giving. This can come in various forms–complaints that a philanthropist isn’t giving a reasonable amount of money, that the organizations they choose to invest in are not productive or other similar complaints. Especially prominent philanthropists tend to receive extra scrutiny in these areas. It’s easy to get nitpicky about these things, but philanthropists are generally well-intentioned. They may not be aware of controversies surrounding specific organizations, or they may just not be in a position to give as much money as people think they ought to. When it comes down to it, philanthropists are people too, who have their own lives and sometimes make mistakes. As in any role, there are philanthropists with questionable motives, but it would be a misconception to assume these characteristics are true of all philanthropists.