Philanthropy in Modern World


Philanthropy can be defined as love for humankind. It is derived from the Greek words "Philos," which means loving and "Anthropos," which means humankind. A person who practices philanthropy is called a philanthropist. Some recent examples include the Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Amazon Founder & CEO Jeff Bezos.
The purpose of philanthropy is to improve the wellbeing of humankind by preventing and solving social problems. Philanthropy is not the same as charity. The charity focuses on eliminating the suffering caused by social problems, while philanthropy focuses on eliminating social problems. For example, giving food to a person who is suffering from famine is charity. The food helps the person for a short period of time, but the person will become hungry again in the future. Teaching the person how to grow food is philanthropy because it eliminates the social problem causing the person's hunger.
Philanthropy dates back to Greek philosopher Plato in 347 B.C. His will instructed his nephew to use the proceeds of the family farm to fund the academy that Plato founded. The money helped students and faculty keep the academy running.
Around 150 years later, Pliny the Younger contributed one-third of the funds for a Roman school for young boys. He instructed the fathers of the students to come up with the rest. The intention was to keep young Romans educated in the city rather than abroad.
References to philanthropy can be found in the Quran, Bible, Torah, and in the teachings of many other religions and cultures, including Buddhism, Japanese and Native American cultures, and Hinduism. "Zakat," or giving, is one of the five pillars of Islam that help people become closer to God ( According to the Bible, giving is a way to honor the sacredness of each individual, as in the book of Matthew, when God says, "...Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25: 40). In the Jewish tradition, there are eight levels of charity. The highest level is helping someone to become self-sufficient, which is the definition of true philanthropy (Friedman).
For generations, religious beliefs have influenced the way people think about and participate in philanthropy. For people who are not religiously motivated to give, the religious belief systems of other people help to define what is considered "good" or "moral" in society. For this reason, it is important to consider the impact of religion on philanthropy in the past and present (Bremner 1988).
Philanthropy is important because it provides opportunities. Philanthropy supports projects and endeavors that may be too unpopular or controversial to gain the widespread support of the general public or the government. For this reason, philanthropy is a very important part of a democratic society. Philanthropists do not answer to the government or to the public, so are able to freely choose the people and projects to receive their support.
Philanthropy has played a very important role in American & Indian society alike. We directly benefit from philanthropy by the use of libraries, schools, hospitals, performing arts centers, and museums supported by the generosity of philanthropists. Philanthropy may also support scientific research, scholarships, civil rights endeavors, social services, and other things beneficial to society.
Recent Statistics on Giving
Americans and U.S. organizations gave a record $427.71 billion to charities in 2018, an increase of 4.2% over the previous year. 68% of that sum was donated by individuals, 18% by foundations, and 5% from corporations.
As much as 32% of charitable donations went to religious organizations. Most of the donations to religious groups went to local places of worship. Around 16% went to educational groups. Coming in third were human services groups, which reaped 12% worth of windfalls in that year, while grantmaking foundations received 11% and health organizations received 9%. Overall, charitable giving accounted for 2.1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018.
As in India, overall, total social sector funds have grown at a rate of 11% over the past five years. While the government continues to be the largest contributor to social sector funding in India, hovering at about 6% of GDP, private philanthropy is expanding and has outpaced public funding growth.

Written by - Yashwant Singh Tyagi
Edited by - Vaibhav Sharma

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