Distinguishing Between Charity & Philanthropy

Charity vs Philanthropy

When you see a beggar on the road asking for a dollar to eat, and you decide to give them some money, you’re providing them with a means to overcome hunger. On the other hand, if you receive an email from a non-governmental organization (NGO) asking you to sponsor a poor child by paying a small amount of money every month to fulfill their requirements, your act becomes philanthropy when you agree to give money every month to help raise the orphan child. What is the difference between these two acts? Let’s find out.


Charity is an act that provides relief from suffering for a person. So, when you give food to someone who is really hungry, you’re performing an act of charity. Similarly, sending your old clothing items to a far-off place struck by a natural calamity is also an act of charity, even though you don’t know the actual beneficiary. Some communities feel obliged to give to charity as they’ve been raised to feel the moral responsibility to help those less privileged. The change from our pocket that goes into the jar of school children trying to raise money for abandoned animals or to help the poor in a third-world country qualifies as charity.


If you give a person a fish to eat, you fill their stomach, but if you teach them to fish, you help them earn a living forever. This is what a philanthropic act can do for someone. The investment of private capital for the public good is at the core of philanthropy. Philanthropy focuses on solving the root cause of problems rather than providing money for immediate help. So, donating a large sum of money to build a new wing in a hospital or an old age home is an act of philanthropy, as it is not going to provide immediate relief but focuses on a long-term solution for the growing needs of the poor and elderly.

Key Takeaways

  • Charity provides relief from suffering, while philanthropy tries to identify the root cause of the problem.
  • Charity is a short-term solution, while philanthropy is a long-term solution.
  • Charity is plain giving, while philanthropy takes a more active stance and often involves a strong urge in the heart of wealthy people to give back to society.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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