The word “philanthropy” gets thrown around a lot these days. I see more and more people referring to it in their posts, and even in their tweets. Philanthropy is an interesting word because it encompasses so much passion and emotion. Philanthropy is very different from charity; however, I see many people use the words interchangeably.
Charity involves the act of giving away time, money, or other resources to those in need. Philanthropy, on the other hand, implies a deep love for human beings. It usually involves some sort of private initiative for public good. Philanthropy focuses on quality of life and the pursuit of excellence. To me, based on definition alone, a philanthropist feels like his or her purpose is to improve the overall life of other human beings. If you are a philanthropist, you know it deep down in your soul. It’s who you are, and what you’re about.
This is certainly not to downplay the importance of charity. I work closely with the homeless community in Atlanta, and if there is one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that most people living in that situation don’t have long term goals. To them, the goal is to get through the day, the night, or even the next meal. It’s not about what will happen in a year or five years. That’s where the importance of charity comes into play. Giving money, time, clothes, toys, furniture, computer equipment, etc… as charity can help people see their way through the next day or week. Charity brings a lot of smiles to people who need them.
During the tough economic times over the past few years, it’s kind of neat to see corporate giving is on the rise. Many companies have figured out that not only do they have the opportunity and obligation to help those in need, but doing so impacts consumer spending on their brand in a positive way. It’s truly a win-win in every aspect, and it’s a beautiful marriage between the business of making money and the business of giving it away. This infographic by Social Cast illustrates the most recent information available about who’s giving what to whom. Will reading this affect how you spend your money? I know it makes a difference to me when I know a brand or corporation is behaving in a socially conscious way.