Philanthropy is typically defined as the desire to promote the welfare of others and is typically done by a large donation of money to a group of people in need. It’s been around for as long as society has existed, as there is pretty much always a group of people who just isn’t as fortunate as others. Like most things as old as philanthropy, many misconceptions exist surrounding the topic. People twist things or have their own idea of what philanthropy is, which can give them the wrong ideas. Here are a few common misconceptions about philanthropy.
Philanthropy is a transaction
Many people think that in order to be a philanthropist you just need to donate a one-time large sum of money to a community in need. While this isn’t a bad thing to do, it doesn’t make you a philanthropist and it won’t necessarily fix the problem. Philanthropy needs to be constant, not a one-time ordeal. The big difference between charity and philanthropy is just that. Charity is typically a simple donation to a group, but philanthropy is about finding the root of the problem and trying to solve it so that a group of people no longer needs the assistance being given to them. This obviously takes time, but philanthropy has the main goal of solving problems permanently as opposed to putting a band-aid on them.
Small Donations Don’t Matter
While causing lasting change does usually require large amounts of money or other meaningful ways of volunteering, this doesn’t mean that small donations don’t matter at all. When there are enough smaller donations or forms of volunteering, relationships are formed between the donor and the community, which leads the way for more help. Take a look at Hurricane Harvey for example. In 2017, Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast and left an absurd amount of lasting damage. Because of this, more than a million donors gave less than $100 each, which eventually contributed $35 million that helped those needing food, shelter and more. The same can be said for other disasters such as the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Even if you can’t make a large change by yourself, many people can help in small ways.
Nonprofits Are Better When They Have Less Overhead
Many people believe that when there’s less overhead in a nonprofit organization, that organization is better and doing better work. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, having less overhead likely means that more of your donation is going towards the communities that need your help, but that also means that the infrastructure of an organization will also be compromised. Regardless of what you may think, the individuals who work or volunteer at these nonprofits are key to making sure those organizations reach their goals and do what they set out to do. Nonprofits should be rewarded for the things they get done, not for how little they spend on their employees or other things that are required for them to run. Having less overhead means less impact.