Have you ever thought about getting involved in your community, but are unsure of what the next step is? Understanding philanthropy can be tricky to navigate, so it is important to know common terms that are used. For example, you may have heard about philanthropy and charity, but how exactly do they differ? While the meaning of philanthropy and charity are oftentimes intertwined, there are a few significant differences to understand. Both charity and philanthropy are necessary in order to help solve social problems in today’s world.

Philanthropy vs. Charity
When a person thinks of charity, giving money to relief funds or food to homeless shelters will come to mind. When a person donates to a charity, they are providing an immediate need in their community. While philanthropy is similar in that a person can actively work towards improving a situation within their communities, they are looking for a long-term solution to a community need. As Learning to Give puts it, charity works to help reduce or eliminate suffering that individuals experience from social problems, while philanthropy works to reduce or eliminate the social problems. As a result, philanthropy is typically seen as an ongoing, long-term project.

Why is Philanthropy Important?
Not only does philanthropy work to solve a social problem that our community faces, it helps provide opportunities to today’s society. For example, philanthropists who are focused education may provide academic scholarships to different ivy league universities. In doing this, the philanthropist is providing the opportunity for someone to attain an education that they would not be able to afford otherwise. If they are unable to provide the money, they can still volunteer for the university or non-profit organization, to help raise the money for scholarships. In general, the philanthropists are providing long-term solutions that can be used in the future.

How to Get Involved
In order to become more involved as a philanthropist, it is important to think about social problems that you care about. If helping younger generations attain an education is important, you can get involved with universities or non-profit organizations that work towards providing scholarships to underserved populations in your community. By getting involved with an cause that you care about, you will enjoy what you are doing while making an impact.

When deciding on an organization that you would like to get involved in, it is also important to do research prior to committing to them. Going back to the education example, you may want to focus your time and resources towards providing undergraduate scholarships for students in underserved communities. While there are many organizations dedicated to improving education, they may not have any scholarships in their budget. By researching the organizations, you will be able to narrow the options down by the services they offer the community.