CFMC “101” – Philanthropy Versus Charity

Philanthropy Versus Charity – How We Give Matters

Often when we give to charity, we’re giving from our heart. Something or someone has stirred up an emotion within us that makes us happy or sad, and we want to help. That’s a good thing, but we must also think before we give.

Why? Because our giving must have an impact extending beyond tomorrow or a year from now so individuals have opportunities to change their circumstances. We at the Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) call it Philanthropy With Measurable Impact.

Everyone in Morgan County has a responsibility to ensure future generations have a community where they can grow and succeed.

Philanthropy defined is to improve the wellbeing of humanity by preventing and solving social problems, such as homelessness. Charity, however, focuses on eliminating the suffering caused by an immediate “today” need. We refer to this immediate need as the “tyranny of the moment.” Those seeking help can only see “today” and what’s needed rather than focus on how to overcome their issue long-term.

Let’s be a community that’s proactive by working towards long-term solutions.

For example, a food pantry gives food to a person who’s hungry. That’s a charity because the food only helps the person short-term. Eventually, the person will be hungry again and they’ll return to the pantry for another handout. This impact is reactive, enabling the person to stay stuck in their situation, and not sustainable.

When we give a hand up like teaching people how to grow their own food or provide resources so they can get a job, we’re practicing philanthropy. Why? Because the problem (unemployment) causing their hunger has been eliminated. This impact is proactive, empowering the person to change their circumstance. It can be long-term and sustainable.

Here’s an illustrated example of the differences between philanthropy and charity:

Now that you know the difference between philanthropy and charity, what are you going to do with this knowledge? The issues we have in Morgan County, whether it’s poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental health and more aren’t going away. They will only worsen if we continue to put Band-Aids on generational wounds.

Be part of the solution and work with CFMC.

It’s time to change our thinking from giving to investing and from charity to philanthropy by partnering with CFMC. We’ll work with you to ensure your hard-earned dollars have a lasting impact on our community.

CFMC’s mission is to connect donors and their charitable giving with our evolving community needs to enhance the quality of life for current and future generations through impact grantmaking. Our vision is to be the philanthropic leader and a catalyst in order to maximize available resources in our county.

Through IMPACT grants, funds, endowments, and scholarships, CFMC works with nonprofits, business and government leaders, to address social issues and implement long-term solutions.

Be part of a sustainable solution that changes lives for the better, particularly our youth and future generations. Go to for more information or email us at and let’s make an IMPACT together.

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