Patron vs. Benefactor – Difference & Definition

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

I’ve seen the words “patron” and “benefactor” often used interchangeably because they both describe someone who is generous with their time, money, or resources. But they actually have slightly different meanings and connotations. Stick with me while I explain the differences and how to use them properly.

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Patron Meaning

A patron is just someone who supports an individual or organization, usually in the arts, by providing them with financial assistance or other helpful resources. The word “patron” is derived from the Latin word “patronus,” which means “protector” or “sponsor.” Just think of Harry Potter and how Patronus is his protector and guide.

Patrons are people who support the work of artists, musicians, authors, or other creative people by buying their work or providing funding for their projects. A patron can also be someone who supports a particular cause or organization, such as a museum or a non-profit.

For a more specific example, I’m an author of Fantasy Romance, and my readers are like my patrons. They buy my books but also support special projects like book boxes and Kickstarters.

What Is a Benefactor?

So, a benefactor is also someone who provides financial help or assistance to artsy people like me. They can be someone who donates money, goods, or even services to a person or organization that is in need. So, it’s very similar to a patron, but a benefactor provides more than just money.

The word “benefactor” comes from the Latin word “benefactor,” which means “doer of good.”

A benefactor can also be someone who provides support or assistance to a person in need, such as mentoring or volunteering. When I first began publishing, I had a mentor who taught me the ropes; she could also be considered my benefactor.

Patron vs. Benefactor

You’ll usually see the word “patron” used when someone’s talking about the arts and culture, while “benefactor” is used more generally to describe someone who provides financial or other assistance to creatives like me. But I see no reason why the terms can’t be used interchangeably.

Both terms mean there’s an act of generosity, kindness, and selflessness taking place. Whether it’s buying handmade goods, supporting a local artist, or donating to a cause on a regular basis. Also, a single individual or a big company can both be a patron or benefactor. It can also be a way of giving back to the community and supporting the causes that are important to them.

What Do We Call a Person Who Is a Recipient of the Patron?

Someone who receives help, whether financial or some other form, is usually called a protégé. But you can just refer to them as a receiver or recipient. 

Sentence Examples With Patron

  • The museum is grateful for the patronage of its donors, who helped fund the awesome new exhibit.
  • Our local symphony relies on the patronage of its members to continue its performances.
  • Callie wouldn’t have been able to finish her sculpture without the patronage of her wealthy sponsor.
  • My dad is a restaurateur and a patron of the local farmers market, and he buys produce from there for his restaurant.
  • This author is thankful for the patronage of her readers, who have supported her throughout her career.
  • Many small businesses are struggling to survive without the patronage of customers during the pandemic.

Sentence Examples With Benefactor

  • My kid’s school was able to build a new science lab thanks to the generosity of a benefactor.
  • Our local hospital is grateful for the support of its benefactors, who donated money towards the new wing.
  • The community center wouldn’t have been able to provide services to the neighborhood without the help of its benefactors.
  • My sister received a scholarship from a benefactor that covered her tuition.
  • The local charity organization can provide services to the community thanks to the support of its benefactors.
  • Our town’s shelter is looking for benefactors to help fund their programs for the homeless.
  • My grandparents were able to afford home health care thanks to the generosity of a benefactor.
  • I received a loan from a benefactor that helped me start my publishing business.
  • I was once a struggling artist, barely able to make ends meet until I was shown the generosity of a benefactor.

Are You a Patron or Benefactor?

In the end, you can get away with using either word for both contexts. But if you want to be technical, a patron is someone who supports by buying or giving money, and a benefactor is someone who supports by investing time and resources. Make sense?