What is the Definition of Philanthropy?
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, philanthropy is defined as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially active effort to promote human welfare.” Additionally, philanthropy is “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes,” or “an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.”
This is interesting to consider. The majority of the time, most of us tend to think of philanthropy as the large donation of money to humanitarian or environmental causes. We tend to think of famous philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller. More recently, we might think of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
What is a Philanthropist
However, a philanthropist does not only have to be someone who donates large sums of money to worthy causes. The definition of philanthropy says that one has to have a goodwill to humankind and an interest in promoting human welfare. One can accomplish this in a multitude of different ways.
A philanthropist could be someone who is educating herself on humanitarian issues. She could figure out what issues are salient to her, what issues are most dire or what issues people do not acknowledge as much. She could also learn the most effective solutions to this issue. The philanthropist could use this education in order to build her dedication to an issue and make the most change.
A philanthropist could be someone who consistently does community service for a humanitarian organization or a cause that he supports. He could dedicate his time to this organization and help using the skills that he possesses.
A philanthropist could be someone who works for a nonprofit or humanitarian organization. This person could dedicate his or her career to a valuable cause. She could work on the ground or in policy reform.
Finally, someone could donate a percentage of their income to a cause or humanitarian organization. The amount of money does not necessarily have to be large.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that a philanthropist has to make an “active effort to promote human welfare.” This means that a philanthropist is not exclusively someone who donates a lot of money to humanitarian causes. A philanthropist makes a significant effort to change a societal problem, in the best way that he or she can. A philanthropist finds an issue resonates with her, and she does what she can to help. Philanthropy is about dedication to humanitarian issues. It is not always about money.
– Ella Cady
Sources: Huffington Post, Merriam Webster, About.com, Biography Online