Is philanthropy for rich people only?

Philanthropy is often associated with the filthy rich. But is philanthropy for rich people only? It seems like if you aren’t financially wealthy, it sounds pretentious to call oneself a philanthropist. You can call yourself charitable or generous, but don’t go around calling yourself a philanthropist. the filthy rich. If you aren’t financially wealthy, it seems pretentious to call oneself a philanthropist. You can call yourself charitable or generous, but don’t go around calling yourself a philanthropist.

What is Philanthropy and Altruism?

The two are related but entirely different. Let’s define the two terms first.

Philanthropy is an institution to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. 

Altruism is a state of mind concerning the well-being of others. It is defined as a truly unselfish act. Is altruism a purely selfless act though? There are always positive externalities. We donate money because we feel good. It’s an optimal means to launder reputation. It also provides great tax benefits.

Philanthropy is a social construct, altruism is not. Think Mother Teresa for altruism, and Oprah Winfrey for philanthropy.

Philanthropy is a social technology used by the ultra-rich. It confers tax benefits, social capital and a boost in public relations. It is a great social tool for billionaires to get other positive effects.

Image from Charisma News

How about the middle class?

The middle class could be charitable, too. Charity and altruism know no social class or income tax bracket. The impact of social good is felt all the same.

However, it pays to also be accountable for where your charity donations really go. Several scams are out there that are designed to prey towards the altruistic.

A Charity GoFundMe Scam

In 2017 a crowdfunding scam unfolded when a couple, Katelyn and Mark, along with their conspirator Johnny Bobbit, came up with a plan. They posted a fake story and sold it on the internet–about a homeless man giving the last of his $20 to a woman to help her with her gas. The couple posted this heartwarming story and created a GoFundMe campaign to repay the kind homeless man and get him a place to stay.

The GoFundMe campaign was a huge success, having raised $400,000 from 14,000 people. In a few years, the ‘homeless man’ Johnny Bobbit sued the couple alleging that the latter did not give him his fair share. The couple used the money for their own end, and worse, they even posted their new BMW, trip to Vegas, gambling, shopping on social media.

Makes us wonder. How accountable were we with our charitability


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