noun \fə-ˈlan(t)-thrə-pē\

: the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people

plural phi·lan·thro·pies

Full Definition of PHILANTHROPY

:  goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially :  active effort to promote human welfare
a :  an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes
b :  an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes


  1. The family's philanthropy made it possible to build the public library.
  2. <among the industrialist's philanthropies was a college scholarship fund for deserving students from the inner city>
  3. For many years, Microsoft has used corporate philanthropy to bring technology to people who can't get it otherwise, donating more than $3 billion in cash and software to try to bridge the digital divide. —Bill Gates, Time, 11 Aug. 2008


Late Latin philanthropia, from Greek philanthrōpia, from philanthrōpos loving people, from phil- + anthrōpos human being
First Known Use: circa 1623


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Voluntary, organized efforts intended for socially useful purposes. Philanthropic groups existed in the ancient civilizations of the Middle East, Greece, and Rome: an endowment supported Plato's Academy (c. 387 BC) for some 900 years; the Islamic waqf (religious endowment) dates to the 7th century AD; and the medieval Christian church administered trusts for benevolent purposes. Merchants in 17th- and 18th-century western Europe founded organizations for worthy causes. Starting in the late 19th century, large personal fortunes led to the creation of private foundations that bequeathed gifts totaling millions and then billions in support of the arts, education, medical research, public policy, social services, environmental causes, and other special interests. See Andrew Carnegie; B'nai B'rith; Bill Gates; George Peabody; Rockefeller Foundation; Straus family.


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