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The word "philanthropy" literally means humaneness and comes from the Ancient Greece. Historically, this broad concept was covering all forms of voluntary assistance to needy people, but today, the main synonym with to the word "philanthropy" often acts as a charity. In this case, philanthropy may be defined as the selfless activity main purpose of which is helping the needy individuals or groups of people (e.g. children, elderly, disabled, sick, and poor).
The modern philanthropy has its roots in cultural and religious customs. It may have a number of forms such as donations to universities, institutes, hospitals, environmental and animal protection projects, churches, and museums. The donators are individuals, charitable organizations, funds and even commercial companies, which suggest the existence of corporate philanthropy. Nowadays, the concept of philanthropy includes a large number of diverse social phenomena, which vary from the targeted assistance of private individuals to the large-scale socially responsible business of big commercial companies. Philanthropy, among other things, is useful in emergency situations such as assistance for starving and freezing people or victims of disasters.
The philanthropic activity, as a rule, is based on a variety of charity organizations and funds. Modern businessmen and rich people often donate money to such funds who later distribute it among the needy people. These activities are carried out in a certain pattern, which means the existence of the individual program for each person or organization. Large charity funds are the linking chain between society and state as their philanthropy takes the part of the state functions in the social sphere. Fundraising is one of the basic mechanisms of philanthropy, which is the collection of funds for the targeted assistance such as a surgery for sick children. This activity is held by numerous non-profit and volunteer organizations. There is a common practice of collecting donations in the USA where even small children are involved in philanthropic projects.
Corporative philanthropy is another form of the charity that is also called the social investment. It is based on the market research that gives the possibility to control the donated funds taking into account the expectations of the final result. In the corporative advertising era, the philanthropy is based primarily on economic profit, which helps to maintain the company’s image and solve various administrative issues. In some countries, the charity donations are not charged by taxes or may provide certain tax benefits.
Thus, philanthropy is a charity activity that aims to assist and protect the poor and needy people. It has been known since the immemorial times and holds the impersonal character. The true philanthropy is impossible without the support of such values as selflessness, compassion, and humility. Philanthropy as a social and cultural phenomenon reminds us that the world is still not measured by categories of benefits and cost recovery.
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