Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Charity vs Philanthropy

Giving and receiving. Some will question the underlying motives of any giver. I would say, regardless of the motive, give first, ask questions later. A person's motivations should be best left for him/her to deal with - be it themselves or their God. For us to second guess is petty.

There is a saying that there is no real charity or philanthropy, and in many ways, there isn't. Why the idealism? Real charity stems from not expecting anything in return - e.g. fame, recognition, justification for self morality purposes, redemption, karma, being able to live with oneself, etc. Or because its the right thing to do, why is it right in our capitalistic world?

Technically, we may want to banish capitalism for socialism, then there would be "more equality and less disparity". No, I am not a socialist at all. I do not believe in socialism because it goes against the human spirit of achievement, attainment, performance and diligence. I am more of a democrat, a labour political party person, believing that the disparity in income should be a lot closer. That is, if you work as a labourer, you pay should not be that much different to someone who is an executive in an office. There are many places on earth that practices capitalism but you will find a plumber probably making more money than a bank manager - absolutely nothing wrong with that.

While we all strive to make a better living for ourselves and our family, we should always bear in mind our society and where its at. To accumulate and hoard wealth for their own ends would be fruitless and futile. Our days on earth are numbered. Ask any billionaire, they would gladly halve their fortunes to get to live healthily for another 20,30 years. But things are not like that, we all leave a legacy, and we should leave it a better place than when we arrive.


Even if you do not have wealth in the tens of millions, there are plenty of more important things you could do - making sure your kids are taught and brought up properly, making sure the lives of people around you are bettered, be the better parent, father, grandparent and friend.

Charity and philanthropy are not just money, but time and planning.

Much of the contributions to disasters such as the Asian tsunamis and Katrina in US is Charity. Charity is a gift made without any expectations beyond the immediate alteration of a need (giving to a beggar).

Philanthropy takes a more strategic approach as it addresses social challenges such as poverty and inequality, education, health, environmental degradation.

Therefore the need to advance and strengthen philanthropy for social investment and social justice is urgently needed for the following reasons:

  • Decline in volunteerism and giving
  • Reduced role of the state as a provider of social services
  • Diminishing resources for civil society
  • Growing disparities in society
  • Severe environmental degradation
  • Poor mobilizisation of indigenous philanthropy

Worldwide philanthropic models are undergoing a sea of change. Company portfolio’s now include social investments and social audits. Consumers are purchasing products from companies that practice ethics and corporate citizenship. Contemporary philanthropy is increasingly organisational in nature.
Global challenges as well as factors like education, economic success are transforming the field of philanthropy. Donors too are concerned about making the world a safer place. Philanthropy is sharing of private wealth through vertical (Corporate) and horizontal (community giving). Strategic Philanthropy is to integrate vertical and horizontal forms of philanthropic giving.

To end, when we find ourselves trying to second guess the real intentions of a philanthropist, revert the question to yourself. To the philanthropists, it would be encouraged that all go through more self introspection when it comes to altruism - its just your soul, really.


walla said...

Number One, here.

pilocarpine said...

an excellent analysis... great timing, too... on the blissful Wesak Day... if you're a buddhist, Happy Wesak to you. Sukhi Hotu

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Boutique Classical Attitude said...

Blessed are those who gave....indeed :)

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