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The Subtle Difference Between Charity and Philanthropy

The Subtle Difference Between Charity and Philanthropy

| January 08, 2024

Charity and philanthropy are two terms related to giving that are often used interchangeably, even though they differ. While the difference is subtle, it is essential to understand the differences between charity and philanthropy in terms of giving, as well as the pros and cons of each.

What Is Charity?

Charity is a form of giving that is immediate to help those in need when they need assistance. Most often, charity focuses on providing urgent necessities within a short period of time. This could be disaster relief, food drives, holiday toy drives, or emergency assistance. Most charities are non-profit organizations that try to help people with one-time gifts.1

What Is Philanthropy?

Philanthropy involves serving the public and a community in a meaningful way through contributions that are a result of larger visions instead of satisfying an individual’s immediate need. It often involves volunteer work, donations, and hands-on strategy to help address societal issues in the long term.1

Pros and Cons of Charity vs. Philanthropy

Both charity and philanthropy are designed to help those in need, but both options have advantages and disadvantages which need to be considered when you’re considering donating your time and money. A focus on charity is beneficial because it helps to take care of an immediate problem with the hope of preventing larger challenges for the people receiving the charity. It is also sometimes easier for a donor to see results from their donations, such as the food they donate feeding a hungry family.2

One of the drawbacks of charity, however, is that its effects may be only short-lived since the impact of the problem is what is being solved instead of getting to the root of the problem.2

Since philanthropy focuses on long-term solutions, its impact may last longer by focusing on some of the roots of problems in modern society. This is one of the main draws of philanthropy, especially for those who are focused on the future and tend to donate based on strategy instead of emotion.2

The main drawback to philanthropy is that it focuses on the future and chips away at the root of societal problems, which means it may take a while, sometimes even a lifetime or more, for a full dream to be realized. If you prefer to see immediate results from your charitable giving, philanthropy may not be the most ideal option.

Get Started Giving Back

Whether you feel that charitable giving or philanthropy is the avenue you want to take with your giving, knowing that both options have multiple ways to contribute is essential. While monetary donations are the most common, you may also donate your time to charitable or philanthropic causes. Find a charity or cause near and dear to your heart and learn how you may make an impact.


Important Disclosures:

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by WriterAccess.

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1 “Difference Between Charity and Philanthropy,”,

2 “What Is Philanthropy? Examples, History, Benefits, and Types,” Investopedia,