Philanthropy, in its basic form has existed for thousands of years—it is not a new concept. It was the ancient Greeks who coined the term, philanthropos, meaning “loving humanity.” While the word has slightly evolved over time, it still embodies the same principles. At its root, philanthropy embraces the idea of spreading good to humankind through financially supporting and promoting causes that seek societal betterment. Though existing for ages, it is like many other things, taking on current trends and following streams of progression as time reshapes ideologies, opinions, and necessities.
Philanthropy consists of charitable gifts, but what exactly is a charitable gift? It should be understood to mean the following: “A gift made by an individual or an organization to a nonprofit organization, charity or private foundation (Charitable Donations).” Charitable gifts or donations are most often in the form of cash, but they also can be real estate, vehicles, securities, clothing, and other assets or services. It should be noted at this point that such gifts are generally tax deductible, thus for the giver and receiver a double benefit is received—one receives the gift, the other receives a tax deduction.
Now to the trends: the role of the individual philanthropist is as strong as ever. Approximately 85% of the total charitable contributions made annually are by individuals. There is a streak of popularity toward nonprofit organizations that do not rely on any government founding, membership dues, and have no earned income revenue—they rely solely on the donations of individuals. A few examples include: Orphan Grain Train, Vitamin Angels, Robin Hood Foundation, Homes for Our Troops, and Feed My Starving Children (10 Highly Rated).
While individual giving has been promoted in the past as being a “good thing,” it definitely has taken an upward swing. In the past couple years, high profile people such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett,...