What is Philanthropy?

Published by Thomas Herold in Economics

'Philanthropy' is explained in detail and with examples in the Economics edition of the Herold Financial Dictionary, which you can get from Amazon in Ebook or Paperback edition.

Philanthropy refers to the action of donating something. It comes from the Greek word for the love of humanity. While many people consider the term to equate to large gifts from wealthy people, this is not necessarily the case. Any type of donation is actually an act of philanthropy. This could be giving money, services, or property. It is not the amount of the donation that makes a gesture philanthropic. Instead it is the giving itself. This is equally true for a few dollars given to a person in need or several million dollars offered to an organization that is not for profit.

Philanthropy is sometimes pursued by institutions and corporations. It is most generally correlated with families or individual persons. Philanthropists are people who engage in the act of donating. This term is usually reserved for individuals who give away huge amounts of resources, as in millions. Even though individuals who give lower amounts of resources are often sacrificing more to do so, they are not usually as obvious to other people as wealthy people making contributions. This is why smaller donators seldom receive the honorific title.

Monetary donations are the most obvious forms of philanthropy. It can be given right to people who need help. Other times it is donated to charitable organizations to disperse. This category of giving can also include other financial assets like stocks or bonds. Sometimes philanthropists give these to a beloved university or research organization. A number of these donors give away their money in their will. They can provide instructions there as to what organization or group they wish it to go. Warren Buffet is an example of a generous philanthropist who has pledged to give away all of his multi-billion dollar fortune.

Property is another common type of donation philanthropists make. It is not so simple to give away as money. There is more involved with receiving property, and some charities are not able to accept each type of donation. When it is land or vehicles, a charity will need a purpose for the donation unless they will sell it later to obtain the cash value.

Other forms of property people donate are new or used clothing and items that charity stores known as thrift shops can sell. Even non perishable food items people or organizations give individually or by truckloads count as philanthropic property donations. Individuals or businesses give these to charity center, shelters, or soup kitchens.

Sometimes people overlook the category of services when considering philanthropic activity. Many people need help in various forms. A person might volunteer their time to visit sick people in hospitals or nursing homes, or to help serve or deliver soup kitchen meals. Lawyers and accountants can provide their services to individuals who can not afford them. Teachers can offer to tutor children who need help. Even helping to fix another person’s house is a benevolent philanthropic act. Angelina Jolie is a wealthy actress who gives not only money but also her time helping the poor in other countries as an ambassador to humanity for the United Nations.

Gifts from an individual’s body are also philanthropic. Donating blood is such an act. This saves injured people’s lives and is critical when blood transplants are required. Some individuals will donate a kidney to save another person. Organ donors are those philanthropists who give their bodies’ vital components after they die. Their organs can be transplanted to save individuals who will die without them. This makes such donations among the most philanthropic possible.

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The term 'Philanthropy' is included in the Economics edition of the Herold Financial Dictionary, which you can get from Amazon in Ebook or Paperback edition.