Lately, many successful businessmen and businesswomen have focused their efforts on improving the world through philanthropy and other good works. As a striking example, a certain Russian business leader has devoted a significant amount of money and effort toward an assortment of different causes. Religious tolerance is another subject dear to his heart.
His work provides a good model for other philanthropists, who can learn from his strategic approach. He streamlines his approach by attending to the issues that matter to him the most; he recently committed several million dollars’ worth of support to an support center that assists families in need of mental health services.
What Distinguishes Philanthropy?
Depending on which dictionary you check, the definition of philanthropy typically involves a motivation to support the public good and the giving of financial support to accomplish this. It is important to distinguish philanthropy from other kinds of corporate practices that may involve giving, especially if they have profit or gain as their motive. Another common mistake is to mix up philanthropy and redistribution by governments, whose motivation is to render assistance and facilities to the public.
A tougher problem is distinguishing it from charity. Generally, there is a high degree of overlap, but not all philanthropy counts as charity, and vice versa. Some claim that charitable giving refers to donations that affect the direct “symptoms” of a problem, while philanthropy takes aim at the root cause of the social ill being targeted. Keeping that in mind, do not be surprised if you encounter the two words being used interchangeably in practice.
Interestingly, some philanthropists seem to be playing a one-up game. In some cases, very wealthy individuals donate significant fractions of their overall assets. Considering the growth of the extremely wealthy, it might not be a huge shock that this is happening. This has been enhanced by the technology boom, as well as the continued growth of financial markets on several continents.
A Variety of Causes
One element of philanthropic giving that stands out is the large number of worthy causes. Case in point, the business leader described at the beginning of this article has a number of pet causes, including human rights, mental health, and disarmament of nuclear weapons.
Some donors choose to direct their funds to other areas, such as preventable diseases, poverty, hunger, or fighting corruption worldwide. Of course, there are an unlimited number of other problems that could be addressed.
Philanthropy has become a crucial element of our modern world. In some ways, we all benefit from these peoples’ efforts, such as when we visit museums or use libraries constructed on donated funds. Another beneficiary of such aid is unpopular causes that may not receive the help they deserve due to a lack of acknowledgment by the public.