Definition Of Philanthropy
Based on the Greek words “philos” and “anthropos”, philanthropy literally means “love of mankind”. It refers to selfless and noble acts in the shape of donations. These consist of cash or essential goods. While the term has been around for centuries, in the modern era it acquired a totally new nuance.
Behind The Concept
As stated above, philanthropical activities have their roots in the past. Rich and powerful moguls used to donate a share of their personal wealth in order to help people in need, mostly. The purpose was to gain a public image of benefactor to raise consent and praise. In general, collective imagery link(ed) philanthropy to altruistic goodwill promoted by rich entrepreneurs in the shape of cash, assets, shares and so on. All of this directed to socially useful activities.
Philanthropy Over The Years
Over the years, the term undertook new and deeper meanings. That is, the range of implications deriving from philanthropy has broadened up to embrace a new perspective. In this new scenario, the focus is not only on cash donation. As a matter of fact, monetary contributions aim to support specific projects that intends to make a real impact. People value those associations that further noble causes such as hunger-relief programs, universal education initiatives, arts and culture projects and so on. The point here is to feel a connection with the recipient mission and values.
The public opinion towards philanthropists has changed constantly through the time. As it was mentioned earlier, well-known philanthropists as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or as recently Jeff Bezos are praised for their engagement in helping the society today. However, in the last century, John D. Rockefeller’s first proposal of The Rockefeller Foundation faced skepticism and opposition, because politicians and public agents regarded the funding of this foundation only as a clearing tool for his company and rivals official political institutions and norms. Nevertheless, philanthropists were essential factors during and after wartimes and other turbulent periods.
Furthermore, experts feel like it is important to differentiate philanthropy from charity. While the latter refers to donations whose purpose are mainly to support a cause and to minimize consequences of social problems, the former has different and more meaningful ramifications. As a matter of fact, its mission is to solve the specific problem upstream, hoping to eradicate it once for all.
In the last years, analysts and researchers started to concentrate their efforts on how corporations partake in philanthropical initiatives. The rising literature wants brand more and more socially committed. That is, they are expected to invest in charitable and humanitarian projects and actively engage, showing interest and emotional involvement. It’s pivotal, moreover, that corporate philanthropic projects are well integrated with the overall mission of the core business.
In conclusion, showing your human and generous side can be a great strategy. It fights a good cause and it enhances brand image. Nevertheless, companies must narrow their investments to those projects that are truly worth it and aligned with their culture. This is the only way to appear authentic and make a real impact.