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What is Philanthropy?


Discuss about the Modern Philanthropy and Civil Society.

Philanthropy is the decision to promote human welfare which can be expresses especially by the generosity in terms of monetary donations for good causes. Philanthropy is a crucial aspect of a democratic society and is a tad different from charity and it focuses on the removal of social problems. It also supports projects as well as tries from which all segments of the society as well as the people benefit. This might include libraries, museums as well as scientific research. It also backs efforts which might be too controversial or unpopular in order to get total support from the government and common people alike.

The concept of philanthropy is to improve the well-being of humankind by the prevention as well as solving of social problems. Charity is not the same as philanthropy because it focuses on the eliminating the social problems whereas philanthropy focuses on the elimination of suffering caused by the social problems. Going at the root of any problem and helping in its eradication altogether is basically the concept of philanthropy management. Charity might help a person or group of persons temporarily but philanthropy helps in the removal of the problem altogether.

The origin of philanthropy is several thousand years old. Ancient people also practiced philanthropy for a variety of reasons. It has a private sector engagement with the civil society. The notion of civil society is quite ancient. Since ancient times human societies required cooperative behaviour for the purpose of survival and it can be easily stated that the primitive patterns of social harmonisation and institutional methods shaped and will continue to shape the world at present. There has been a great amount of interest in the civil society management. There have been several debates related to the new interests related to the civil society. The universal acknowledgement of the rise of the civil society has been significant. Every individual can be thought of as a member of civil society (Adam 2009). Every individual can be considered to be linked to the civil society and institutions in the public space. The degree of the participation in private and public life is very closely related to the characteristic actions of persons belonging to the civil society.

The term civil society is supposed to mean several things in the modern time period. The words of non-profit organisations as well as the philanthropy, a setup of international NGOs, the social relations involving mutual respect and several others come under it. All these ideas are responsible for reflecting the myriad interests as also the identities present in the contemporary society. It also includes the chore of working in order to better the worsened conditions in the world. In a particular society where there are increasing instances of intolerance, the problems related to the freedom of doing something and that of belief, an inability to pursue the common goods, the chance of the bettering of the civil society is responsible for creating a ray of hope in the otherwise disheartening scenario. The models of a positive civil society suggest a ray of hope in an otherwise morose situation.

Key Differences between Philanthropy and Charity

Civil society and its difficult framework of freedom, rights, common commitments and also the processes for the peaceful solving of problems is the reason for it being promising in the future situation. There is an enabling framework for the purpose of democracy and there is also an inherent tension a flimsy amount of balance between the public and private interests. Maintenance of this balance is imperative to the finding of solutions for the major challenges in the modern democracies which require public resolution and also challenges such that environmental degradation, the important educational needs, ethnic needs, ethnic as well as religious strife and the difficulties and lowered quality of public decision making. These are considered as issues of the commons, the resolution of it determines the situation that people will encounter in future.

There are certain issues which are related to the well-being and ultimate survival of the community and these are related to the individual decision making in the significant situations that might arise in any segment. The well-being and the ultimate survival of the community is extremely critical. Hence the role of philanthropy is extremely crucial for the proper management and benefit of the society. The creation and the sustainment of the institution of the frameworks and the proper norms of the society need to be met successfully.

Philanthropy is considered to be the central value of the civil society. The concept is strongly concerned with the tradition of the emphasizing of the personal action for the common good. Philanthropy is an indispensible vehicle for the realising of this intention towards the common good of the civil society. The concept of the free communication is extremely important for the development of the society and the betterment of the people (Stuckler, Basu and McKee 2011).

Tolerance is also an extremely important aspect of the civil society. The essential as well as the defining value of the civil society is considered to be the determinant for the proper acceptance of philanthropy.

The most significant observation is the study is the rise of the concept of giving which involves small and individualistic giving in specifically emerging market economies. The study states that the emerging market economies also are significant in the concept of giving and being philanthropic by nature. The development of philanthropy is often neglected and often it has been found that it has not been properly recorded in certain situations. Nevertheless its contribution towards the overall welfare of the people is significant. The concept of philanthropy is neglected in situations where the concept of giving is given the name of welfare service. The concept of philanthropy was progressive and this meaning of was not understood clearly in certain scenarios. There are reasons that specific issues receive more amount of philanthropic support. This is because there are certain visible natures of poverty as well as inequality which is responsible for the philanthropists to act immediately and provide immediate relief.

Origin and Evolution of Philanthropy

In certain situations there is the need for philanthropy to be relevant. In order to be at par with the times, philanthropy has to break from the moulds of normalcy in order to be relevant. There is a significant endowment for the greater amount of flexibility in the foundational frameworks. The relationship with the corporations and the formation of the profit as well as non- profit organisations is crucial as they change the nature of the civil society. In this connection there needs to be a relation of the civil society with the businesses and the development of the trust is also crucial in order to work together (Banks and Hulme 2012). The alignment of the profit along with the social values is not a very new phenomenon in the different parts of the World. Since the non-profit organisations are interested mainly in the improvement of the human welfare as well as the realisation of the human rights the most important focus of the organisations of the civil society is on those corporations which show a real and noteworthy commitment to a social purpose (Reckhow and Snyder 2014). In this particular situation in Case the civil society has to maintain and in fact increase its relevance, there needs to be a certain amount of courage and strength in order to shape the global values. It also needs to be explored how a profit motive can be better aligned with the values as well as rights based approaches. Global value chains needs to be shaped, the influence of the flows of the financial capital needs to be understood, there also needs to be a better aligned system of the actual motives of the organisations along with the actual performances. By the active engagement and the help of the selected corporations to evolve the influence of the very fabric, a new nature of global capitalism has come about.

According to studies it has been seen that, several enterprises have the desire and the drive for mission driven impact and hence an ultimate benefit for the organisation. The role of the private sector is linked with the global development. There are several corporations that think of ways and methods in order to avoid the harm which is caused by the unfettered desire for the accumulation of profit. There are cases when the leaders of the organisations as well as their employees are desirable of contributing to social good by the promotion of positive human development. There have been instances in which the increased amount of the private sector development in the tracking leads to the increased development to grow. It can undoubtedly be stated that the future will include certain approaches to the human welfare which leverage the public, private as well as the non-profit sectors.

Philanthropy and Civil Society

There has been an undeniable increase in the prevalence of the private sector. All the aid flows have been so modest that it is extremely unreasonable to expect them to have economy wide impact in connection to the volume of the private resources which flow across borders or which are available within a country for the development of the country. Certain segments or communities are focussed on certain aspects which might include the issue of homelessness, conservation as also the disabilities of different communities. It corresponds to the corporate social responsibility that depends on the sustainable value chains as well as the business models (Galaskiewicz, 2016).

The most important problem of facing the philanthropic world over the next decade is actually an illumination of the self understanding as a social as well as a cultural factor. It is an important question of whether the philanthropic institutions are part of the private government sector being therefore an element in the vital civil society or just a part of the governmental institutional sector. It is usually considered that the civil society is a place for great freedom, impulsiveness as well as creativity (Schuyt, Smit and Bekkers 2013). This might also be due to the reason that the empowerment of the ordinary people has no predescribed ends and can make the civil society messy, unpredictable and even uncontrollable. It can also become subversive to a dangerous extent. This is a characteristic which few foundations are quite brave enough to support.

There have been distinct approaches to philanthropy and it is necessary to do so in order to avoid the debates which are only a function of the lack of awareness of different prevalent methods. One type of philanthropy is the concept of charitable giving. This involves the accruement of beneficiaries. A giver of charitable nature is concerned majorly with the value of the programmatic execution which is relative to the size of the grant size and cares very little related to the non-profit organisation.

Another type is that of philanthropic investment, which seeks to invest resources into non profit enterprises for increasing their ability to deliver execution of specific programs. This investor is mainly focussed on the longer increase in the improvement of the execution in connection to the grant size.          

Strategic philanthropy is another aspect for the buying of the non profit goods and services connected to the theory of change which are defined by the strategic philanthropist. The execution by the grantees advances the solution which according to them is the most likely to solve problems which they seek to address.

The Role of Philanthropy in Society and Community Welfare

Social entrepreneurism seeks to execute those programs directly which are linked to a theory of change. Other organisations approach engage with the help of these organisations. They are mainly concerned with the net social impact of their programs.

Corporate philanthropy is when the setting up of standalone charitable foundations are an effective vehicle. Companies are becoming more and more aware of their responsibilities to the communities in which they operate. Major amount of engagement is being seen in corporate social responsibility programmes (Nickel and Eikenberry 2009).

There is another concept of giving circles which is powerful and simple at the same time. It happens when individuals come together and pool their funds, decide together where to give the money and also to learn about the community and also understand properly about the concept of philanthropy. The opportunity in order to shape a group for meeting the specific requirements of a community and the particular interests and also the capabilities of the donors remain the most appealing characteristics of a giving circle.

The grant making philosophy is adopted by the philanthropic organisations which have grant rounds where proposals are submitted for funding for the companies. On the other hand, the concept of social finance involves the lending of money with the main purpose of achieving positive social change. The money is lent if only it is felt that the money will achieve a positive social impact. On such occasions, the money is paid back with rates of interest which are affordable.

Community foundations are non profit organisations which mobilize and invest technical and financial resources in a particular geographical area. The goals are to improve the quality of life of a population and to assist in the community development. Venture philanthropy on the other hand addresses the growing need for the support as well as flexible funding. It came from the application of the techniques which are most commonly associated with the venture capital to the task of philanthropy (Daly 2012).

There is also the prevalence of partnership led philanthropy for the maximisation of the impact by the utilisation of expertise in the cooperation with other philanthropic organisations and also in the achievement of the aims. Several other ideas need support as well.

There is no doubt regarding the role of philanthropy in the modern societies. There are certain inherent responsibilities incumbent upon the sate with regard to its citizens. It is understood that when the resources are limited, the gaps can be filled by the individuals who have the means to do so. Thus all the major philanthropic institutions have done a lot to stop the spread of diseases, improvement of education, creation of infrastructures as well as the sustainability of the cultural life of communities all around the world (Koch 2012).

Philanthropy and the Private Sector

In case of several people, the drive to support the charitable endeavours is the recognition of the fact that every individual has the potential and can be realised only under the right circumstances. This is because the large foundations have several problems in case of many organisations. It can safely be said that philanthropy is not just the donation of money but is dedicated to providing relief to several number of people in need of several requirements (Sievers 2010).            

The successful philanthropy is quite the same as successful business. It also requires to search for a field in which a person can make the most impact and ensure that the service has the most amount of effect. Just like businesses the charitable foundations need to be aware of excessive wastage of funds as well as inefficiencies in the operations. This is because only profits are not at stake.


Philanthropy can fill the gaps which are created by the market failures. The private sector is an effective mechanism for the allocation of the resources in the society and also for the production of better products, goods and services. Philanthropy is also seen as a good way to produce social benefit. There are certain amount of risks which can only be taken by philanthropists and nobody else (Sulek 2010). A benefit of sorts in case of philanthropy is that it is not risk contained in any way. It also helps in the scaling of good ideas. Innovative solutions can be identified to challenging problems, for their testing out, the development of their evidence of efficacy and the sharing of the learning procedures which help in the demonstration of the activities. Philanthropy allows us to connect and share values which are responsible for drawing people to this concept. There is an amount of human satisfaction in giving and that cannot be forgotten.

Philanthropy arises out of the human impulse to be of service and help in order to be of service to others. The role of philanthropy in modern society is well captured by the concept of the actual venture of capital. There are always newer ways to contribute towards the society. Thus philanthropy needs to be pursued for the proper welfare of society and people in utmost need of it.


Adam, T., 2009. Buying respectability: Philanthropy and urban society in transnational perspective, 1840s to 1930s. Indiana University Press.

Banks, N. and Hulme, D., 2012. The role of NGOs and civil society in development and poverty reduction.

Daly, S., 2012. Philanthropy as an essentially contested concept. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 23(3), pp.535-557.

Galaskiewicz, J., 2016. Social organization of an urban grants economy: A study of business philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. Elsevier.

Koch, F., 2012. The new corporate philanthropy: How society and business can profit. Springer Science & Business Media.

 Nickel, P.M. and Eikenberry, A.M., 2009. A critique of the discourse of marketized philanthropy. American Behavioral Scientist, 52(7), pp.974-989.

Reckhow, S. and Snyder, J.W., 2014. The expanding role of philanthropy in education politics. Educational Researcher, 43(4), pp.186-195.

Schuyt, T., Smit, J.H. and Bekkers, R., 2013. Constructing a philanthropy-scale: Social responsibility and philanthropy.

Sievers, B.R., 2010. Civil society, philanthropy, and the fate of the commons. UPNE.

Stuckler, D., Basu, S. and McKee, M., 2011. Global health philanthropy and institutional relationships: how should conflicts of interest be addressed?. PLoS Medicine, 8(4), p.e1001020.

Sulek, M., 2010. On the modern meaning of philanthropy. Nonprofit and voluntary sector quarterly, 39(2), pp.193-212.

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