Defining Philanthropy, by Henry Frechette

Following up on my previous post on charity, and want to define philanthropy in hopes to highlight some of the important differences between the two forms of giving. Here you go:


Definition: Philanthropy is about the giving of time, talent, and treasure, but unlike charity, there is a possibility of return. Also unlike charity, philanthropy has more in-depth and partnership-based nature.


  • Where as charity focuses on treating more of the symptoms of a problem, philanthropy focuses more on the treating the problem or cause of the symptoms.
  • Philanthropy can be done both individually and through organizations.
  • While charity is more based in transactions, philanthropy is based in both transactions and setting up mutually beneficial partnerships between organizations and recipients.

Develop Strategy

  • Define the problem: Long before we make a single grant for any given issue, we listen and learn about problems that cause great inequity… As we learn about an issue, we ask whether we can make a difference with our money and our ability to bring partners together. We get involved only if we believe we can make a unique contribution.
  • Articulate the Strategy: For each opportunity, a program area considers its cost, the risk associated with it, its long-term viability, and, most important, its potential impact on people’s lives. Based on the answers to these criteria, and after extensive discussion, the program identifies a strategy, which includes a budget, the results they hope to achieve, and a plan to measure those results over the short and long term.
  • Develop an Execution Plan: Once we receive approval on a strategy, we develop an execution plan. To create this plan, we detail the “nuts and bolts” of how we will implement against our strategic goals. We develop a budget, identify grantees and likely grants, and set specific milestones and time frames.

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