While philanthropy is generally a noble pursuit, it is, unfortunately, plagued by a variety of myths and misconceptions. To ensure both long-term success and integrity, aspiring philanthropists must be able to distinguish between fiction and reality as they get their initiatives off the ground.
Here are a few of the most common philanthropy myths, debunked.
Myth: “Nonprofits are irresponsible with donations”
Like most stereotypes, corrupt and unethical nonprofit activity is not reflective of the entire philanthropic nonprofit community. While scams and other examples of misuse may make headlines, these instances are a collective anomaly in a much larger and genuine body of charitable entities.
Myth: “Women are less philanthropic than men”
This myth is both ideologically antiquated and glaringly foundationless. Proper and efficient charitable activity transcends gender, and, more specifically, a growing body of research confirms that “women play a distinct and powerful role in philanthropy, with shifting economic positions and social roles increasingly shaping women’s philanthropy over the last forty years.”
Myth: “Millennials are detached from philanthropy”
Like that of the previous section, this myth is attributing a lack of philanthropy to a mostly irrelevant variable: in this case, age. This damaging viewpoint is spawned, in part, by myopic studies of generational philanthropic activity, which often focus on one specific form of charitable giving as an end-all and be-all of involvement. In reality, younger philanthropists are consistently diversifying the ways they give back, making it harder to quantify their impact.
Myth: “Nonprofits do not actually need a lot of additional funding”
Arguably the most damaging misconception for nonprofits, this myth is a harsh generalization of the nonprofit community. In the US, most nonprofits are small and dependent on outside funding to remain active, and many of them have an annual budget of $1 million or less.
Myth: “Some donations are too small to matter”
Every charitable donation, no matter how small, makes a difference when added to a nonprofit’s collective fundraising. This myth is perhaps a product of the belief that nonprofits are irresponsible with funds; it builds distrust within the general public and, subsequently, creates a misguided idea that only large donations will be used — albeit partially — for the cause in question. In actuality, diverse funding is crucial for a nonprofit’s survival, and while large grants objectively hold more weight in this equation, lesser donations are still important in their own right.