We can’t all be giants in the world of social leadership, or great philanthropists providing millions to support the world’s poor. But we can all learn from people in these positions, and that learning is valuable if we want to provide social leadership within our own communities. One great source of insight into this is the BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index.

Investing with a Purpose

The most recent edition of the Paribas survey of high power philanthropists has highlighted a number of trends. Top on the list was impact investing.

When we talk about investment our aim is usually profit, but it can be so much more. Investment focused on socially worthwhile projects may be less likely to create a huge return, but it is vital to funding growth and social change in troubled regions.

As individuals, most of us don’t have the financial clout to make a significant difference on our own, but we can look at investment opportunities that allow us to easily team up with others, or to directly benefit people on our own scale.

Ethical banking is an obvious option, putting your savings into a socially conscious organization such as Europe’s Triodos Bank. If you invest in shares you can choose companies that will make a positive contribution to the world as well as a profit. There are even organizations that will help you make micro loans to small businesses in the developing world, where a few dollars can go a long way.

Using Your Crowd

The power of using social media and crowd insight to develop a social program is also highlighted in the report. It’s hard to find any insight into modern life that doesn’t touch on these methods at least a little, but how can you use them as a social leader?

You don’t need to start big. Many of the support systems and fundraising campaigns aimed at helping sick children and their parents are the work of mothers with Twitter accounts. From breast feeding awareness to influencing hospital boards, they’ve achieved significant things from tiny starts.

The success of these networked moms highlights the power of tapping into your natural crowd, whether it’s fellow moms, your local community, your workplace or a group with shared interests, like the Nerdfighters fundraising group launched by the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel. Social media and crowd insight don’t have to be about trying to reach the whole world. If you can just activate the part that shares your interests then you can achieve a huge amount.

We All Have Advisers

Some of the steps taken by wealthy philanthropists seem completely at odds with the way the rest of us live. For example, some hire specialist advisors or outside experts to help them make the biggest possible difference. Yet far more rely on their families for advice, an approach that any of us can take.

The truth is that applying our money and effort in the right way makes it far more effective. We’re seldom going to make perfect choices, but a little advice can keep us on the right track. That same community that you’re galvanizing into action in support of your campaign will also be full of people who understand the issue that you’re campaigning on, whether it’s the work of a local charity or a matter of workplace reform. So start by using the advisers you already have, and so find ways to make your effort more effective.

Anyone Can Lead

Not all of us can be wealthy philanthropists, but we can all take on social leadership roles, and we can learn from those philanthropists to make the most of that leadership.