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Tue Aug 21 2018

Charity vs Philanthropy

There’s a lot of words out there that can seem similar: charity, giving, donating, philanthropy, volunteering. It can seem intimidating to know what’s what or what you’re supposed to do. What do they all mean, and what’s the difference?

There’s a lot of words out there that can seem similar: charity, giving, donating, philanthropy, volunteering. It can seem intimidating to know what’s what or what you’re supposed to do. What do they all mean, and what’s the difference? Let’s start with simple definitions:

Charity is the voluntary giving of money or aid to those in need. It’s usually:

  • Reactive - someone needs help so you give it.
  • Addressing symptoms - the things we can easily see around us.
  • Financial support - most charity is given as money, totaling $410bn in the US last year.

Philanthropy is investing in solving problems. It’s usually:

  • Thoughtful and researched. People want to understand impact, return and effectiveness.
  • Addressing root problems. Recognizing that real solutions may need diverse strategies.
  • Involves financial support, volunteering, advocacy and more.

Both charity and philanthropy are important. Both come from the desire the help others, to improve the world around us and make a difference to someone’s life.

Today, charity has never been easier and philanthropy has never been harder.

We’re constantly bombarded by requests for charity. On Facebook friends from all over the world are asking for money for something. GoFundMe has made it easy for people to raise money - sending emails, on social media. Giving to these can certainly be impactful, but can also often feel fleeting, or you might be unsure really where the money went or what it did. Perhaps it wasn’t really a cause you identified with, but didn’t want to let your friend down.

The problem is, being a philanthropist is hard. When we think of philanthropists we think of rich people giving away billions of dollars. We think of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah, or Alma Spreckels (to whom we nod our name).

Technology has already changed how charity works, but philanthropy is still behind. Researching charities is a pain, and knowing who to give to or how much is really tough. But more and more people are wanting to go beyond charity. To really put their time and money to good use, and feel connected to the people around them.

At ALMA we want to make philanthropy easy. And for everyone.