Charity is tactical; philanthropy is strategic.
Definition – “Charity the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.”
Definition – “Philanthropy the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes”
Charity addresses immediate problems. It usually makes no effort to do more than ameliorate symptoms. Minimizing symptoms is not to be disparaged, it has a place.
It is like treating pain. People heal better when pain is less.
In other cases, it supports the cost of operating a structure that delivers help. Like a church or a service club.
While both charity and philanthropy use money to help others, philanthropy addresses it differently. It usually has the goal of overcoming a problem rather than addressing symptoms
Like the Gates Foundation. Define problems. Assign priorities. Assess possible solutions. Marshal resources. Execute. Reassess. Refine. Execute better. I would be amazed if the Gates Foundation used any significant amount of money to treat symptoms where they were not addressing a solvable problem.
Minimizing symptoms tends to make problems last. Why solve anything if you can cope with the situation? Institutionalizing problems is not helpful.
We mean well when we give, but we must assess the deep value.
In some ways, charity is short term and philanthropy long term.
We cannot be like the Gates family, but we can consider solving problems as an agenda item. Philanthropy need not be millions, it can be a little, properly directed.
Consider Edmund Burke.
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he thought he could only do a little.”
Problems go away best when we work together. Find a strategic charity addressing problems you care about. Maybe a community foundation.
Much of planned giving executes through a will. Consider life insurance as an effective delivery tool for your gift. It can multiply the effect.
In the interim, use charity and philanthropy in tandem to help your fellow Earthlings.
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