Dr. Keith Leaphart is seeking to redefine philanthropy through a new business venture.
The entrepreneur founded Philanthropos – The Giving Company, to honor the spirit of the late Gerry Lenfest, a philanthropist who donated more than $1 billion to arts, cultural and educational institutions across the region.
“We are building this company to help redefine what philanthropy is. So for us, it’s gifts of time, talent, treasure as well as your social ties,” said Leaphart, who is chairman of the board of directors of the Lenfest Foundation.
“We’re building a platform that allows people to connect around giving and see the impact of not just their personal giving but the aggregate impact of their network.”
The company’s mission is to expand the impact of individuals by developing a marketplace to help make the most of everyday charitable efforts — whether it be volunteering on a board, making valuable connections or offering in-kind services and monetary donations — by amplifying them on a social network.
“Our goal is to connect people to causes and for people to realize that we are all philanthropists and we can all make an impact in our own unique way,” explained Leaphart, who is also the owner of Replica Creative, a Center City-based graphic design and creative firm.
“It is extremely important for all of us as individuals to be active and participate in this ecosystem.”
Leaphart said there is a huge misconception that only affluent individuals, foundations and corporations are philanthropists.
According to a Giving USA report, Americans gave $410 billion to charities in 2017. The report notes that 70 percent, or $286 billion, was donated by individuals with an average yearly contribution of $2,516.
“You might say that’s the super-affluent that is giving away all of the dollars, and that’s absolutely not true,” Leaphart said.
“It’s actually a lot of smaller dollars in the aggregate working together that make up these large numbers, because most Americans give in their own way. Whether it’s through a mosque, a church or a school, people give. It’s part of the American fabric and culture and it’s consistent.
“The difference is we don’t get our names on buildings because of our giving, “ he continued. “It’s something that goes unnoticed and under the radar. It’s mission critical that individuals continue to give.”
Next year, the company plans to roll out an app, Philanthropi, which enables individuals to track and celebrate their contributions and align with like-minded causes.
Philanthropos has partnered with Saxbys to launch the Season of Giving campaign. The initiative, which runs through Dec. 31, is active in 20 regional Saxbys locations where each location has chosen a local charity as the beneficiary of their campaign.
Team members are encouraging Saxbys guests to “roundup” at point-of-sale to donate to their selected charity, and at the end of the campaign the cafe with the most number of total roundups by guests will receive a $5,000 grant from Philanthropos to their location’s designated charity. Selected charities include, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children’s Literacy Initiative, Covenant House, Monkey & the Elephant, Philadelphia Mural Arts, Philly Youth Network and Team Up Philly.
“At our heart, Saxbys is a social impact,” Nick Bayer, founder and CEO of Saxbys, said in a news statement.
“We strive to ‘Make Life Better’ via memorable hospitality, incredible product and generous community support. When Keith Leaphart shared his vision of Philanthropos with us, we knew this holistic approach to recognizing and celebrating giving — which extends far beyond monetary donations — would help our team live out our mission.”