Every school, museum, and struggling artist is in search for a generous benefactor, or someone to provide the financial means to keep everything running smoothly.

The Latin roots of benefactor are bene, which means "well," and facere, which means "to do" — literally, "to do well." A benefactor does well by supporting (usually financially) a person or a good cause. In the old days, a struggling artist or actor might have been supported by a wealthy benefactor. Now, many struggling artists and actors have to rely on waiting tables and other odd jobs instead.

Definitions of benefactor

n a person who helps people or institutions (especially with financial help)

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Andrew Carnegie
United States industrialist and philanthropist who endowed education and public libraries and research trusts (1835-1919)
Peter Cooper
United States industrialist who built the first American locomotive; founded Cooper Union in New York City to offer free courses in the arts and sciences (1791-1883)
Ezra Cornell
United States businessman who unified the telegraph system in the United States and who in 1865 (with Andrew D. White) founded Cornell University (1807-1874)
Solomon Guggenheim
United States philanthropist; son of Meyer Guggenheim who created several foundations to support the arts (1861-1949)
John Harvard
American philanthropist who left his library and half his estate to the Massachusetts college that now bears his name (1607-1638)
Milton Snavely Hershey
United States confectioner and philanthropist who created the model industrial town of Hershey, Pennsylvania; founded an industrial school for orphan boys (1857-1945)
Johns Hopkins
United States financier and philanthropist who left money to found the university and hospital that bear his name in Baltimore (1795-1873)
Andrew William Mellon
United States financier and philanthropist (1855-1937)
Alfred Bernhard Nobel
Swedish chemist remembered for his invention of dynamite and for the bequest that created the Nobel prizes (1833-1896)
First Viscount Nuffield
British industrialist who manufactured automobiles and created a philanthropic foundation (1877-1963)
John Davison Rockefeller
United States industrialist who made a fortune in the oil business and gave half of it away (1839-1937)
Commodore Vanderbilt
United States financier who accumulated great wealth from railroad and shipping businesses (1794-1877)
Elihu Yale
English philanthropist who made contributions to a college in Connecticut that was renamed in his honor (1649-1721)
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a woman benefactor
bondsman, bondswoman
someone who signs a bond as surety for someone else
bestower, conferrer, donor, giver, presenter
person who makes a gift of property
(medicine) someone who gives blood or tissue or an organ to be used in another person (the host)
fairy godmother
a generous benefactor
good Samaritan
a person who voluntarily offers help or sympathy in times of trouble
do-gooder, humanitarian, improver
someone devoted to the promotion of human welfare and to social reforms
someone who releases people from captivity or bondage
accommodator, obliger
someone who performs a service or does a favor
offerer, offeror
someone who presents something to another for acceptance or rejection
patron, sponsor, supporter
someone who supports or champions something
someone who provides the means for subsistence
deliverer, rescuer, savior, saviour
a person who rescues you from harm or danger
someone who refrains from injuring or destroying
a source of help and advice and encouragement
christ, messiah
any expected deliverer
one who gives up or relinquishes or renounces something
a person who gives alms
angel, backer
invests in a theatrical production
blood donor
someone who gives blood to be used for transfusions
emancipator, manumitter
someone who frees others from bondage
someone having a relation analogous to that of a male sponsor to his godchild
a person who sponsors someone (the godchild) at baptism
guarantor, surety, warranter, warrantor
one who provides a warrant or guarantee to another
Indian giver
an offensive term for someone who asks you to return a present he has given you
organ donor
someone from whom an organ is taken for transplantation
patroness, patronne
a woman who is a patron or the wife of a patron
altruist, philanthropist
someone who makes charitable donations intended to increase human well-being
settlor, trustor
(law) a person who creates a trust by giving real or personal property in trust to a trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary; a person who gives such property is said to settle it on the trustee
contributor, subscriber
someone who contributes (or promises to contribute) a sum of money
subsidiser, subsidizer
someone who assists or supports by giving a subsidy
a person who leaves a tip
pillar of strength, tower of strength
a person who can be relied on to give a great deal of support and comfort
Type of:
good person
a person who is good to other people

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