I see the word benefactor a lot in my reading assignments. Is that somebody who benefits from something?

A benefactor is the giver, rather than the getter, in any given situation. The person or thing that derives benefit is the beneficiary, or the one that receives advantage or enrichment from the benefactor.

Benefactors may provide financial support of educational institutions, the arts, or charitable causes. From an estate planning perspective, named beneficiaries may gain money or property when the benefactor's gone.

In Daniel Quinn's contemporary novel Ishmael, the main character says, "Wisely or foolishly, my benefactor decided that I would be the girl's mentor, and (wisely or foolishly) I was delighted to have a chance to please him in that way."

Mary Shelley wrote in her classic Frankenstein, ". . . his hope and his dream was to become one among those whose names are recorded in story as the gallant and adventurous benefactors of our species."

And Machiavelli made note in The Prince, "Because men, when they receive good from him of whom they were expecting evil, are bound more closely to their benefactor. . . ."