Is There A Difference Between Charity and Philanthropy?

When talking about making a donation, either of time, money, or items like clothing or food, we often use the words charity and philanthropy interchangeably. We may say “Susan performed such an act of charity when she gave 10 winter coats to her local shelter,” or one may describe a friend as having a philanthropic nature. While both words do refer to the act of giving, there are some important distinctions to be made between the two.

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Pop-Up Philanthropy

In February, a group of New York City business leaders came together to send middle school students to a free showing of the civil rights film “Selma.” The idea started with William Lewis, Jr., co-chairman of investment banking at Lazard, when he saw the movie with his wife and thought “Every New York City eighth grader should see this movie.”

Lewis first went to Paramount Pictures to see if this idea was possible. He then spread the idea to a few close friends who jumped at the chance to be part of this philanthropic initiative, each donating $10,000. Lewis noted that every person he reached out to donated to the effort.

75,000 students were able to see “Selma” just because one man felt passionately about the idea and simply picked up the phone.

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