Philanthropy is a connection of wealth with the world’s needs. It’s a crossroads where the affluent give some of their abundance to causes that help out either everyone or just specific groups in need.
Even cynics can recognize the advantages of philanthropy and charitable giving. It can result in tax breaks and credits for those that donate, and celebrities use such opportunities to get positive publicity that helps sharpen their societal image.
Still, there is more to it than just looking good and saving money on taxes. Many people who give already understand the importance of philanthropy. Do you?
The word philanthropy seems to be contextually used a lot in discussing the rich and their giving to specific causes. However, if you just slip a dollar bill into a collection box at the cash register of your favorite restaurant, that is also philanthropy.
Whether individual efforts are big or small, a collective effort can have a tremendous impact. The United Nations asks the rich only for 5 percent of their wealth to go to causes that are needed. That’s not really that much.
Tracing the history of the word can take you back all the way to Ancient Greece. Aeschylus was a playwright often accredited with coining the initial term. It meant “love of humanity”.
Modern philanthropy is more associated with wealth and donating money. However, you can also donate your knowledge, skills, and time. Volunteering definitely counts in most capacities.
In short, philanthropy is just any charitable act on your part that improves the status or well-being of anyone else.
While there are government programs and existing charities to serve a patchwork of many different needs within society, philanthropy still fills a role. It can step in after certain disasters with far swifter response than longstanding organizations might be able to provide. This can certainly be evident after a natural disaster where humanitarian missions are swiftly mobilized.
Philanthropy can also support fledgling efforts that concentrate on issues many may not even be aware of yet. Environmental concerns were once such a thing, as there wasn’t much cultural awareness about such matters on a broad level until far more climate had been done. Early philanthropic work might have even paved the way to that general awareness.