Defining Philantrepreneur

The concept of ‘Philantrepreneur’ has always been a part of me. I did not strive to be one, had not put a name on it, it was just who I was. What’s more interesting, there are many more Philantrepreneurs out there to – are you one? Let’s define what it means generically, for me and our efforts now.

1stFirst, let’s look at the root foundation, something as simple as the definitions and interpretation of the two words, Philanthropy and Entrepreneur. Not surprisingly there are several different definitions of Philanthropy and Philanthropist – the noun, and Entrepreneur.

Philanthropy etymologically means "love of humanity".  Merriam-Webster, defines it “as a wealthy person who gives money and time to help make life better for other people”. Interesting, that Merriam-Webster would actually make the distinction of ‘a wealthy’ person as a part of the definition. I will speak to that at another time. Other combinations include:

  • a person who seeks to promote the welfare of others
  • generous donation of money to good causes
  • inclination to increase the well-being of humankind
  • love of mankind in general

Looking at the term entrepreneur, in an article by Brett Nelson a regular contributor to Forbes, listed Merriam-Webster’s definition as “one who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise” and Dictionary.com’s definition as “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” The difference is subtle, but fundamental: It’s the word “any.” Dictionary.com has it right: Entrepreneurs, in the purest sense, are those who identify a need, any need, and fill it. It’s a primordial urge, independent of product, service, industry or market. Richard Branson states, being an entrepreneur simply means being someone who wants to make a difference to other peopleˊs lives. So looking at it from that perspective, anyone starting a nonprofit is an entrepreneur, a Philantrepreneur, right? My answer is Yes – it only makes sense. However, unfortunately there is still a gap for many nonprofit founders that they are an entrepreneurial enterprise and should be operating in that capacity.

Let’s broaden the scope and look at the purpose and focus of what we do within The Philantrepreneur suite of resources. Our goal is to support a full circle approach, build strategies and relationships to benefit both nonprofits and entrepreneurs as they work together.  To develop win-win relationships that result in community and bottom line impact – social enterprise. This social enterprise approach combines social impact and business practice by contributing a blend of financial and social value. By measuring and valuing the impact created by social enterprise, organizations can demonstrate the impact and importance of shifting business practices. This will become increasingly important as more investors contemplate impact investing and look for investment opportunities that offer a social return.

What is important is to also make sure the specific nuances unique to each sectors are understood and implemented for maximum results.