Traditional philanthropy

Philanthropy literally means benevolence or love for humanity. People who do something good for other people are called philanthropists. As diverse as philanthropists are, as diverse is their understanding of philanthropy as well. Unlike more frequently used terms such as charity or the common good, philanthropy focuses on the actor as the origin of public-benefit activity. The philanthropist is not just looking at his or her own benefit, however, but rather the help rendered to other people or the common good. In line with the principle of “give money and step away”, donations and gifts are associated with the definition of traditional philanthropy. Donations may take the form of money, but also in-kind goods or services, and they may be either unearmarked, i.e. left to the free use of the public-benefit organisation, or earmarked for a special project or programme. For some time, however, the traditional boundaries between profit-making investment on the one side and the traditional understanding of donations and endowments on the other side have been blurring. Learn more about these new forms of philanthropy under the heading of modern philanthropy.

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