‘You don’t need a lot of money to be a philanthropist’
Anyone can make an impact if they take a four T approach to giving back, says Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer
Responsible wealth management is about protecting, growing and passing wealth on to the next generation, but it’s also about addressing today’s global challenges. This is where philanthropy can play a vital role.
“You don’t need a lot of money to be a philanthropist, because everyone has something to give. Even children can be philanthropists,” says Caroline Piraud, global head of philanthropy at Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer.
That said, effective philanthropy requires more than a heartfelt approach: you have to be strategic about it.
“Good intentions are not enough,” says Piraud. “You want to be passionate about giving while knowing it’s actually achieving a positive affect.”
We sat down with Piraud to find out how you can turn your personal values and passions into meaningful acts of charity, regardless of your age or financial situation.
There are so many worthy causes. How should you decide which ones to support?
Global trends among wealthy philanthropists include education, health, arts, culture and sport, and the environment. But the first step in finding a cause to ask yourself: “What’s close to my heart?”
Consider what moves you and your family: which topics dominate dinner table discussions and spark heartfelt debate? The UN sustainable development goals are a great source of inspiration.
Philanthropy is about positive change and, while there’s probably a legacy you wish to leave, it’s a great idea to interview your children about the kind of future they want to grow up in.
We need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of charitable work. It is crucial to remember to check with beneficiaries about what’s actually needed. No matter how well-intentioned, our outside-in perspectives don’t always match the reality of what’s a priority, most impactful or even beneficial.
You say that “you don’t need a lot of money to be a philanthropist”. Beyond capital, what else can you contribute?
Your charitable resources extend beyond finances. Ask yourself: “What do I have to give?” This is where the four Ts of philanthropy — time, talent, treasure and ties — come into play.
Giving time is just as important as giving money.
First, there is the gift of your presence, which is not to be underestimated in a world where loneliness is often referred to as an epidemic with real social, health and economic impacts.
Second, there’s no shortage of tasks that need volunteers, such as shopping for those in a risk group.
Your combination of talents is unique to you. While accounting, board experience and fundraising are skills frequently associated with philanthropy, it pays to cast the net much wider.
Aged care facilities often welcome guest entertainers; parents of newborns appreciate meals trains; and mentorship programmes seek diverse and knowledgeable mentors.
WATCH | What have you got to give? Caroline Piraud, global head of philanthropy at Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer, explains the four T approach to philanthropy.
Focusing on talent is a great way for children to flex their philanthropical muscles. Keen bakers could gift treats to socially isolated neighbours; budding musicians could host a fundraiser; and older children could pass on skills they’ve mastered.
Perhaps your philanthropic budget stretches into the hundreds of thousands, or maybe your child has the sum total of this week’s pocket money to give. It’s about maximising the positive impact of what you can afford to spend, even if that’s simply aligning existing outflows with your cause, such as shopping small or local.
Another tip is to think broadly and consider whether time-sensitive, one-off donations could be more impactful abroad due to currency conversion rates.
Get researching and get clever about what you’ve got to give and the causes you’re passionate about.
There’s a reason the saying “it’s not what you know but who you know” exists. It is important to screen your personal network of family, sports teammates, friends and work colleagues to see who you can join forces with.
Leveraging one another’s skill sets and networks can amplify your impact, or perhaps your role is to be the catalyst, to connect people who together can bring about great change.
Tell us more about the role strategy plays in philanthropy.
In sharing your gifts with the world, it pays to be as clear and structured as possible. Know your goals, your personal focus and giving strategy, and check that your actions are both impactful and positive.
A clear strategy defines investment amounts and timelines. See if it makes sense to set up your own charitable structure, consider your preference for short- or long-term engagements, know how to stop emotions overwhelming decisions, and identify who’ll keep an eye on your financial safety.
Also, be as well-versed as possible on how to find the right partner or charity organisation, the pros and cons of local vs global engagement, how to effectively measure your impact, and any tax implications.
What causes does Julius Baer support?
Over the past 50 years, the Julius Baer Foundation has been dedicated to making meaningful and impactful contributions to society.
Through its Wealth Inequality Initiative, the foundation supports projects that help to counterbalance the wealth gap that exists in society. Such initiatives go beyond poverty reduction, they aim to bring together various stakeholders to create mutually beneficial partnerships.
Locally, the foundation is a proud supporter of Christel House SA in Cape Town. This non-profit school takes a “whole child” approach to education to help unlock the potential of some of the country’s most disadvantaged young people.
Another of chief causes the foundation supports is the search for alternative solutions to replace plastics on the planet.
This article was paid for by Julius Baer. The Swiss wealth manager’s Joburg representative office is based at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton. Call +27 (0) 10-133-0403 or visit juliusbaer.com