Life lessons: Epic Foundation’s Alexandre Mars

Philanthropists and industry insiders share their advice on intelligent giving, and the experience they’ve gained along the way

Success is like a mountain climb. Once you’ve reached the top, it’s your role to pull up those left behind, to go out of your way to find those who may be lost, and to prepare the path so more can climb as well. Be successful, but do something with your success

The two biggest dangers I see among wealthy people are fear and entitlement. Fear settles in when you can't part with your money, when you think you need every dollar you own. Entitlement is when you believe that you earned that money, that it is rightfully yours and that it should not serve anyone else. Neither perception is correct.

"If people could realise that philanthropy means sharing, we’d have many more philanthropists"Successful people are usually vocal advocates of their cause, but too often they become jaded. To keep your energy, you need to face the reality of the causes you support. Seek out those you help; ensure you visit the shelters you support. Travel to see the impact of your philanthropy. It makes your advocacy more authentic.

The word ‘philanthropy’ has a stigma. It often feels like a word for the rich and famous. The word ‘sharing’ also has a stigma, but quite the opposite: nobody wants to be known as selfish. If people could realise that philanthropy means sharing, we’d have many more philanthropists. Sometimes a change of heart comes from a change of words.

As you advocate for deeper philanthropy, allow people to not be ready to engage. It is easier to judge than to educate, faster to frown than to smile. Look for the good in everyone: if not giving, what can they do to help? Assume they are capable of goodness, and help them turn it into greatness. 

The value of your wealth is what you make of it. Giving it back to help others is truly the only path to a higher level of happiness. Giving does not take away from your wealth – it adds value to it.

About the writer
Alexandre Mars is a tech entrepreneur and engaged philanthropist who started his first venture at 17. He founded Epic Foundation in 2014 to bridge the gap between a new generation of individual and corporate donors, and organisations supporting children and youth globally.