Entrepreneur and philanthropist Keith Leaphart had two goals at the start of his career — to help people and to make money.
Leaphart has dipped his toes into many industries to achieve that goal. He’s a trained physician, obtaining a medical degree at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completing a residency at Thomas Jefferson University. He bought and ran design firm Replica Creative, and has explored running for congress.
But it was Leaphart’s board seat on the Lenfest Foundation, which funds causes in the Greater Philadelphia area, that clarified the path he wanted to take. As the chair of the foundation, he saw how philanthropic giving could make the kind of impact on communities he wished for.
So in 2019, he launched Philanthropi, a fintech company to streamline charitable giving, and make the practice accessible to employers as an employee benefit. Leaphart “got into tech late,” he told Technical.ly — but “I realized I wanted to build something tech-enabled, scalable that was driving impact and helping people.”
“What better way than empowering everyone with their own personal foundation?” the founder and CEO said.
Funding for change, and growth
The platform allows individuals, whether through their company or on their own, to create their own foundation that tracks and streamlines financial donations to nonprofits. Its Impact Account offering is akin to a donor-advised fund and lets a user track their donated time, talent, money or network. (Keeping with the tech angle, Philanthropi calls it Giving as a Service.) A personal foundation also helps you see the impact of your donations over time, Leaphart said, and allows you to make the donation on behalf of someone. His own personal foundation is named after his late mother and sister, so all donations are made in their names.
Last year, Philanthropi raised $4 million from lead investor Amex Ventures with participation from Live Oak Ventures and Darco Capital. The funding is helping the startup expand past its employee benefits roots, including a revamp of its technology and security, and introducing APIs that connect to bank partners.
Thanks to that revamp, starting in July, anyone can set up a Philanthropi Impact Account. The accounts organize an individual’s giving by allowing them to track when, where, and how much is given from their personal foundation through a comprehensive dashboard. The platform also provides tax information for year-end tax returns. When donations are made through Impact Accounts, Philanthropi validates the recipient to make sure money is directed to official nonprofits that meet local, state and federal status requirements.
What’s next for Philanthropi, and philanthropy?
In its fourth year, Philanthropi’s 25-person team is mostly made up of technologists, the founder said. The team is remote-first but has a good amount employees in the Philly area, with an office at 2400 Market St.
The time spent building out the tech team has allowed the company to prep for scale, Leaphart said, as they know the growing generations of millennials and Gen Z are leading the charge in philanthropic giving.
“They have a mindset toward making a difference. There’s been a shift in the sector from a destination — where you retire, then start giving — [to now] they’re starting today,” Leaphart said. “They’re rounding up their purchases, giving to their local arts organization, they’ve set goals. … We have this really smart group of young people that are set to inherit $43 trillion over their lifetime, and our goal is to be with them on this journey.”
Reminds of a young Leaphart.
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