Charitable efforts make the world a better place, and one person that lives by this principle is Keith Leaphart, a founder who launched a fintech startup to empower individual givers.
The Inspiration Behind Philanthropi
Nearly two decades ago while attending medical and business school in Philadelphia, the seeds were planted for Philanthropi. During this time, he also had a commercial cleaning business to financially support his educational pathway geared toward becoming a physician.
One of Leaphart’s earliest clients was Suburban Cable, which at the time was led by Gerry Lenfest. Cleaning the office of the late billionaire philanthropist and businessman ultimately led to a friendship spanning decades-long and exposed Leaphart to the importance of philanthropy.
“What I realized while working with Gerry Lenfest is that you don’t have to be Gerry Lenfest to be a philanthropist. The reality is philanthropy has shifted more from a destination to a journey,” Leaphart told AfroTech.
Philanthropi Empowers The Everyday Giver
Philanthropi aims to empower everyday givers by partnering with financial institutions, universities, nonprofits, and employers to ensure donors engage with important causes. The partnerships further the fintech startup’s goal of democratizing philanthropy.
Philanthropi’s mission is exemplified through an Impact Account, which is a donor advised fund through a participating employer. According to the company website, users will have access to an instinctive and comprehensive dashboard gauging when, where, and how much is being allocated from their personal foundation. Employers will also have an opportunity to match contributions from employees.
What’s more, companies can establish a relief fund supported by a sponsor organization to ensure their workers can receive funding during times of need. To date, the relief fund has raised over $18,000 and helped 12 families.
Philanthropi also operates as a vessel for nonprofits by providing community and opportunities to leverage marketing and fundraising efforts.
Generation Z & Millennials
Philanthropi ’s resources could prove to be very impactful, especially for Millennials and Gen-Z as nearly 75 percent have distributed financial resources to family, friends, and nonprofits, according to Forbes. The statistic marks the highest among any generation and it is likely to increase as Generation Z is projected to acquire five times more wealth than Millennials by 2030, CNBC reports. For Leaphart, the startup will further the philanthropic muscle of Millennials and Generation Z through its resources and community.
“What I’m most optimistic about in the future is actually Millennials and Gen Z. If you look at the numbers, they’ve been the most active group of givers to charitable organizations. It is part of their mindset to give and make a difference. They’re not waiting to sell a company to get further in their career to start giving back or change the world. They’re starting right now — today,” Leaphart said.
He continued: “For us, this is about empowering them with the tools and giving them frictionless ways to fund their account that doesn’t feel like it’s necessarily hurting their pockets, but leveraging their significant buying power, tapping the social ecosystem that they have. “
As a Hampton University alum, Leaphart wants to encourage other alumni to invest in Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). Supporting HBCUs allows the next generation of students to have a brighter future and a chance to succeed.
“There is great pride in attending an HBCU, but unfortunately, our pride in attending HBCUs doesn’t often translate into our alumni giving a percentage in rates. It’s not about the dollars that we’re giving, but just actually giving. The unintended consequence of large gifts that we see go to the universities that we attended, [is] people feel like ‘Hey, my $25, my $50, my hundreds of dollars, isn’t going to make a difference, so what should I give?'” Leaphart said.
He continued: “Our real focus is on redefining what it means to be a philanthropist and making sure people realize their dollars are really important. If individual givers stop giving to universities and nonprofits, the entire ecosystem will collapse. This is really about empowering people and encouraging them to think about how to leverage their dollars — not just to contribute a large gift, but to empower and inspire others, too.”
What’s Ahead For Philanthropi
As Philanthropi looks ahead, the startup will engage with new partners, including large institutions or enterprises to increase philanthropic efforts.
Most recently, Philanthropi received funding from American Express, which will fund new features on the platform.