Back to Blog

If You Can Understand the Importance Philanthropy, Your Organization Can Thrive

From ancient times to present day, philanthropy has played an important role in success
By: Amanda McDonald
October 3rd, 2017

Philanthropy – a deeply-rooted, vital practice for success

Philanthropic practices have been built into social and belief structures since ancient times.1

In fact, the word philanthropy originates from the ancient Greek word philanthropia, which directly translates to ‘love of mankind.’

Interestingly, philanthropic practices can be found in the ancient civilizations of sub-Saharan Africa where kindness was paramount to society; Native Americans practiced giving to promote balance and harmony; and the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam urged followers to provide and care for those in need.1

Over time, the long history of giving has made a profound impact on humanity.

Understanding modern philanthropy will give you an edge. This is what you need to know. 

Philanthropy has evolved beyond donating money

Today, philanthropy is practiced daily in the United States, and around the world, as a systematic way to improve the quality of human life through the promotion of welfare and social change.1

The definition of philanthropy has evolved since ancient times. Now we defined it as an “altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually expressed by donations, money, property, or work for people in need,” according to the dictionary.

Some definitions extend beyond that to say philanthropic practices include donations to institutions of learning and hospitals and generously providing for other socially useful purposes.2

Modern philanthropy has advanced well beyond just donating money. Today, philanthropy encompasses a broader description of ways individuals and organizations give back to communities.

To put it simply, we can say modern philanthropy is ‘creating change to improve society.’

Modern philanthropist, i.e. your employees, expect more opportunities to give back

With its evolving definition, philanthropy has changed and so have the expectations of today’s donors, also known as philanthropists.

These days, philanthropists expect transparency, inclusion, and the demonstrations of impact to secure their involvement.3

Philanthropists want to be directly involved in the causes they are supporting.

That is to say; today’s philanthropists want to hear stories that are relevant to their lives. More importantly, they want to participate in opportunities to create a noticeable impact.

That is to say; today’s philanthropists want to hear stories that are relevant to their lives. More importantly, they want to participate in opportunities to create noticeable impact.3

Notably, today’s philanthropists also want to experience giving as a way not only to make an impact but also to better define their values as an individual and live out the person they aspire to be.

So what does the evolution of philanthropy mean to organizations?

Your organization’s purpose and corporate philanthropy strategy should align

Well, corporate philanthropy has become an even more critical part of creating a healthy, sustainable culture within an organization.

Corporate philanthropy is a way for organizations to give back to their communities by generously offering and providing employee time, facilities, and their products and services, among financial donations and other things. Typically, organizations have more resources and ability to make a change as well as promote the common good.

Not only is it important for the organization itself, but a give-back culture helps engage employees and build purpose around their daily work.

As mentioned above, people want to participate directly in giving opportunities. More and more corporate philanthropy strategies should align with organizational purpose, which fuels employee engagement.

In addition, organizations that strategically align their purpose with charitable actions are more likely to have strategically thought through how this corresponds to their employees’ desires to give back.

Now more than ever, strategic corporate philanthropy is becoming more tightly bound to the goals of increasing organization’s bottom line.

The goal of corporate philanthropy is to help people in an organization’s community and support important causes.

10 examples of corporate philanthropy

  1. Matching gifts
    • Organizations can contribute to a nonprofit that an employee donates to, usually matching their donation at a 1:1 ratio or more.
  2. Fundraising matches
    • Organizations provide nonprofits with a monetary donation after an employee has donated time or effort to a charity.
  3. Individual volunteer grants
    • These programs reward employees who take time out of their busy lives to donate their efforts to a nonprofit.
  4. Team volunteer grants
    • These are rewards for groups of employees who volunteer their time at a nonprofit together. Employees can designate the grant funds to the nonprofit they serve.
  5. Community grants
    • Organizations who wish to see a positive impact in their local and global communities offer these types of donations.
  6. Volunteer support programs
    • Volunteer support programs allow nonprofit organizations to benefit from free products and services.
  7. Automatic payroll deductions
    • For employees who wish to donate to a worthy cause effortlessly, automatic payroll deductions are one of the easiest ways to regularly contribute to a nonprofit organization.
  8. Internal employee fundraising
    • Organizations can encourage employees to give back and volunteer to support a cause.
  9. Annual grant stipends
    • These are donations that are given to employees each year to donate to a nonprofit of their choice.
  10. Annual giving
    • Organizations make charitable donations at certain times of the year.4

  1. (2016). A history of modern philanthropy. National Philanthropic Trust. Retrieved from http://www.historyofgiving.org/introduction/
  2. (2017). Oxford living dictionaries. Oxford University Press.
  3. Callahan, M. (2017). The evolution of philanthropy & the fall of the fundraising pyramid. Community Funded Enterprises, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.communityfunded.com/blog/evolution-philanthropy-fundraising-pyramid
  4. (2017). Eleven types of corporate giving programs. Double the Donation. Retrieved from https://doublethedonation.com/corporate-philanthropy/
Get the latest news & updates