What is philanthropy?
Philanthropy can be defined in many complex ways. Investopedia‘s defines philanthropy as:
Philanthropy involves charitable giving to worthy causes on a large scale, but it is much more than just a charitable donation. Philanthropy is an effort an individual or organization undertakes based on an altruistic desire to improve human welfare, and wealthy individuals sometimes establish private foundations to facilitate their philanthropic efforts.
In, “Beyond Identity Funding: Rethinking Social Justice Philanthropy,” Catherine Hyde Townsend and Diana Samarasan discuss social justice philanthropy:
Throughout its history, social justice philanthropy has generally remained organized around siloed identities, such as gender, race, and sexual orientation. The sector has largely ignored the ways oppression plays out across intersecting or fluid identities. In the 2022 report, Funding for Intersectional Organizing: A Call to Action for Human Rights Philanthropy, the Human Rights Funders Network provides a benchmark: less than one-fifth of grants explicitly benefit more than one population. The report is “the first comprehensive and global analysis of when and if grants for human rights reach beyond a single issue or community,” according to Alliance. The report’s very existence indicates how far behind the donor community is when it comes to acknowledging identity.
Three decades ago, in 1989, recognizing that discrimination can be complex and cumulative for groups with multiple identities, academic and activist Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” to explain the effect of intersecting forms of oppression like racism and sexism. White-led, traditional philanthropy is only now beginning to understand that those most affected by exclusion often have more than one marginalized identity, and this increasing awareness is thanks to activists for racial, gender, and disability justice. But recognition and action are two different things.
Top Philanthropy Articles
To read more on understanding what philanthropy is please refer to a select list of Nonprofit Quarterly‘s must-read philanthropy articles below (or visit the philanthropy section of our website for the latest news and reports):
- Philanthropy Must Move from Charity to Solidarity
- Community-Driven Philanthropy: Giving Away Assets, Not Grants
- Toward A New Philanthropy: Advancing the Genius of Black-Led Change
- Recentering Philanthropy toward Social Justice
- Beyond Identity Funding: Rethinking Social Justice Philanthropy
- The Cognitive Dissonance of Climate Justice Philanthropy
- Freeing Ourselves from Colonial, White Savior Models of Philanthropy
- Action Steps to Grow Climate-Driven Philanthropy in Rural Communities
- Reimagining Philanthropy to Build a Culture of Repair
- Redesigning Capacity Building: How Philanthropy Must Support Leaders of Color