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starsandroses's avatar

Is there a difference between philanthropy and humanitarianism?

Asked by starsandroses (56points) May 2nd, 2016

Please forgive me if this is a dumb question,

What is the difference between being a philanthropist or humanitarian?

I donate money to different causes….. but I also do a lot of volunteer work as well. I am also getting into animal welfare / animal activism.

I’ve donated time, money, clothing, food, etc

I am just wondering if there are any huge differences…?

I am unsure whether to call myself a philanthropist or humanitarian?

My father is a philanthropist and has been donating money to different causes for decades….. I know he is a philanthropist because he’s involved with different charities….. So far for me I’ve just donated to local shelters….... I am not sure what to call myself? But I am interested in these things….

Is there a difference?

From what I understand philanthropists mostly donate money…...... to charities and causes while humanitarians mostly volunteer?

Again please forgive my ignorance

Thank you to all who answer :)

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14 Answers

starsandroses's avatar

This is what I found online :

Philanthropist – someone who makes charitable donations intended to increase human well-being.

Humanitarian – someone devoted to the promotion of human welfare and to social reforms.

After reading both of these definitions, I still don’t know if there’s a difference or not.

starsandroses's avatar

” they overlap

you can be a humanitarian without being a philanthropist – by never actually making donations

but a philanthropist is always a humanitarian – unless I guess he’s a mafia boss or some other villainous figure who’s just doing it for PR and doesn’t really hold those values

but that just may be one take on it ”

Is this true???

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think philanthropy for the most part implies donating wealth, and it’s one of those words that when you hear it, it isn’t the mailman or clerk at the piggly wiggly that leaps to mind Philanthropy is one of those hobbies by definition restricted to those of substantial means. Humanitarianism on the other hand is about advocating in any manner for the betterment of your fellow human beings free of coercion or remuneration.

starsandroses's avatar

Does a person also have to be super super rich to be a philanthropist?

My dad is a millionaire so he’s definitely what most people think of the stereotypical “Philanthropist”

but what if you’re younger and donate a lesser amount to different charities?

Does the money amount equal in being a philanthropist?

Whether you donate a check for $30,000 or give $300 ???


starsandroses's avatar

Would I be considered a philanthropist if I donate money??? Or would it only be my father??? Since he’s the “stereotypical” philanthropist (older, white, male, rich, etc) like what you said you wouldn’t really consider the mail man a philanthropist.

If I am on a lesser money scale would I just be considered a “Humanitarian” ? Thanks @stanleybmanly

starsandroses's avatar

This video says anyone can be a philanthropist no matter age or income, but I don’t know if that’s true, this is so confusing…

Cruiser's avatar

In general terms…a philanthropist provides money and direction to a cause and a “humanitarian” will personally invest their own blood, sweat and tears towards a cause perhaps because that is all they have to contribute. Both can do both and often do.

starsandroses's avatar


Yeah that makes sense….. So someone can be both?

For example if I donated money for a cause & charities…. but if I volunteer as well and do a lot of activism? Could I be considered both?

starsandroses's avatar

@Cruiser Opps okay so just read where you said both…. So is it safe to say then I can consider myself a humanitarian? I do donate money, but unlike my father not a ton since I’m still young….. could I be a philanthropist as well? I donate money & clothing & supplies to women’s shelters…..

stanleybmanly's avatar

So a philanthropist is always a humanitarian, but a humanitarian is not necessarily a philanthropist?

Lightlyseared's avatar

Vast quantities of money.

jackmeister's avatar

Humanitarianism is based on a view that all human beings deserve respect and dignity and should be treated as such. Therefore, humanitarians work towards advancing the well-being of humanity as a whole. It is the antithesis of the “us vs. them” mentality that characterizes tribalism and ethnic nationalism. Humanitarians abhor slavery, violation of basic and human rights, and discrimination on the basis of features such as colour of skin, religion, ancestry, place of birth, etc. Humanitarianism is embraced by movements and people across the political spectrum.

A philanthropist is someone who engages in philanthropy; that is, someone who donates his or her time, money, or reputation to a charitable cause. The term may apply to any volunteer or to anyone who makes a donation, but the label is most often applied to those who donate large sums of money or who make a major impact through their volunteering, such as a trustee who manages a philanthropic organization.

Cruiser's avatar

@starsandroses Some people may choose to not stretch their gray matter enough to appreciate the nuance between the two. Humanitarianism is a moral of kindness, benevolence, and sympathy extended to all human beings. A philanthropist is a person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. And yes….IMO you easily can be both and seems to me you indeed are. The emphasis on monetary contributions is what defines a philanthropist but does not exclude them from also being a humanitarian.

hsrch's avatar

Philanthropy is an activity; humanitarianism is a belief.

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