Philanthropy is private effort to promote public welfare or serve humanity, through donation of funds, services, or resources to worthy causes. It is investment in the development or well-being of others. It can be the expression of altruism, compassion, or humanitarianism. It may arise from an innate, sincere sense of charity. Some donors ‘give back’, in gratitude for support, services, privileges, or opportunities received. Philanthropy may also be motivated by expectation of reward, such as a tax benefit or enhanced public image. Poor or middle-income earners donate almost twice as much, in proportion to their income, as the very rich.
The World Wide Web has become an efficient platform for philanthropy. International microlending and micro-donating is possible online through ‘crowd-funding’, which raises money for individual and community development projects across the globe. GiveDirectly facilitates direct cash transfers to individual low-income households in East Africa. Zidisha microlends to disadvantaged African communities through crowd-funded loans from individual web users. Vittana allows low-income youth in developing countries to crowd-fund tuition for higher education. Givewell and Charity Navigator assess charities and other NGOs to inform prospective donors.
Access to health services, education, and livelihood may be restricted due to cultural norms, disaster, or conflict. Effective philanthropy addresses the root causes and processes of social problems, not simply their outward symptoms and expressions.