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About Philanthropy

What is philanthropy? And why should you care about it?

“Philanthropy”, as any dictionary will tell you, literally means “love of humanity”. However, that doesn’t really tell you a great deal about what it looks like or how it works in practice.

Most people probably have a vague sense that philanthropy is something to do with rich people giving to charity, but haven’t given it much thought beyond that. Yet in actual fact, philanthropy is much more complex (and fascinating!) than they realise.

It can be broadly summarised as “private action for the public good”, but even this doesn’t really do justice to the diversity of forms that philanthropy takes, or the ways in which it has helped to shape the world we live in for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.

Why Philanthropy Matters’ core mission is to explore and explain philanthropy – to unpack some of that complexity and help you understand what philanthropy is, how it works, and why it affects all of our lives

We have put together a series of guides, with chapters that offer bite-size introductions to key questions, themes and trends affecting giving. This collection will expand over time, but our initial core guides are on:

For those who want to take a deeper dive, we also publish regular articles looking at particular topics in more detail and analysing the latest developments in philanthropy.

Or you can listen to our podcast, Philanthropisms, where host Rhodri Davies explores the big issues affecting civil society, and speaks to experts from around the world who are encouraging and challenging philanthropy to be better.

Learn from our past to better understand our future.

Philanthropy has a long and varied history. We’ve created bite-size chapters that you can jump in and out of to better understand philanthropy.