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It is not that there may be relief for others and hardship for you, but it is a question of equality. ~ Paul of Tarsus

Philanthropy is the conduct of private initiatives for the public good. The term literally means "the love of humanity" — love in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, or enhancing; humanity in the sense of "what it is to be human," or "human potential".


  • O proud philanthropist, your hope is vain
    To get by giving what you lost by gain.
    • Ambrose Bierce, "Epigrams" in The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8 (1911), p. 349.
  • The beginning of love of money is the pretext of almsgiving, and the end of it is hatred of the poor. So long as he is collecting he is charitable, but when the money is in hand he tightens his hold.
    • Johannes Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, as translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Holy Transfiguration Monastery: 1959), § 16:8
  • Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give.
  • Well, I was myself recently also in Afghanistan, and I sat down with the mothers in these displacement camps around Kabul. And I asked them, “What about the future? What do you think of the future?” And they told me very clearly, “We believe we will starve and freeze to death this harsh winter, unless there is an enormous aid operation coming through and unless there is a public sector again that is able to provide services.” It is as acute as that. Forty million civilians were left behind when the NATO countries went for the door in August.
  • Money should not go to the military political group called the Taliban that took power by force. The money should go to the people, and it is possible. So, number one, there has to be trust funds, as we call it, that is held by U.N. agencies, that funnel money directly to the hospitals, that you just showed, where people are dying at the moment. It can go straight to the teachers that were on the payroll of the World Bank previously, can go straight to them. So, the money can go through us, international organizations, straight to the people.
    Secondly, unfreeze those funds that will enable banks to function again. At the moment, we cannot even buy relief items in Afghanistan. We have to ship them over, take them over from Pakistan and Iran, which means that employment is dying in Afghanistan.
    And thirdly, donors, come down from the fence. See that we are there. We are reliable channels for funding. The money will go to the people. Transmit funding, not just come with pledges. This will not become Switzerland in a long time. You have to share the risk with us to save lives this winter.
  • The English bourgeoisie is charitable out of self-interest; it gives nothing outright, but regards its gifts as a business matter, makes a bargain with the poor, saying: "If I spend this much upon benevolent institutions, I thereby purchase the right not to be troubled any further, and you are bound thereby to stay in your dusky holes and not to irritate my tender nerves by exposing your misery. You shall despair as before, but you shall despair unseen, this I require, this I purchase with my subscription of twenty pounds for the infirmary!"
  • His house was known to all the vagrant train,
    He chid their wanderings but reliev'd their pain;
    The long remembered beggar was his guest,
    Whose beard descending swept his aged breast.
  • A movement to divest from fossil fuel is gaining support among foundations as activists push for funding to be shifted away from coal, oil and natural gas. The call from activists to the charitable world is simple: Ditch fossil fuels and direct your investments into climate-friendly companies and funds. The worldwide divestment campaign has sought commitments from universities, corporations and other entities. Now, two of the biggest names in philanthropy — the Ford and MacArthur foundations — are reorienting their investments away from fossil fuels, a move that leaders of the divestment movement hope will prove to be a tipping point for the charitable world.... “We’re calling on governments and corporations to act on climate aggressively and commensurate with the science,” said Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund and a leader in Divest-Invest Philanthropy, which is pushing the philanthropic community to dump its fossil fuel investments.... The MacArthur Foundation, an $8 billion organization known for its “genius grants,” pledged two years ago to halt new investments in oil and gas. It went further in September, saying it would switch to U.S. index funds that exclude fossil fuel companies. And it's aiming to change its global index funds to do the same within a year.
  • Steal the hog, and give the feet for alms.
  • It is not that there may be relief for others and hardship for you, but it is a question of equality .
  • For this relief, much thanks: 'tis bitter cold,
    And I am sick at heart.
  • Speak with me, pity me, open the door:
    A beggar begs that never begg'd before.
  • You find people ready enough to do the Samaritan, without the oil and twopence.
    • Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir (1855), Volume I, p. 261.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 595-96.
  • Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
    • Acts, IX. 36.
  • Gifts and alms are the expressions, not the essence, of this virtue.
  • He scorn'd his own, who felt another's woe.
  • Our sympathy is cold to the relation of distant misery.
    • Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter XLIX.
  • A kind and gentle heart he had,
    To comfort friends and foes;
    The naked every day he clad
    When he put on his clothes.
  • Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
    Heaven did a recompense as largely send;
    He gave to misery (all he had) a tear,
    He gain'd from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
  • Scatter plenty o'er a smiling land.
  • By Jove the stranger and the poor are sent,
    And what to those we give, to Jove is lent.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book VI, line 247. Pope's translation.
  • It never was our guise
    To slight the poor, or aught humane despise.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book XIV, line 65. Pope's translation.
  • In every sorrowing soul I pour'd delight,
    And poverty stood smiling in my sight.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book XVII, line 505. Pope's translation.
  • Alas! for the rarity
    Of Christian charity
    Under the sun.
    Oh! it was pitiful!
    Near a whole city full,
    Home had she none.
  • He is one of those wise philanthropists who, in a time of famine, would vote for nothing but a supply of toothpicks.
  • I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.
    • Job, XXIX. 15.
  • In Misery's darkest caverns known,
    His useful care was ever nigh,
    Where hopeless Anguish pour'd his groan,
    And lonely want retir'd to die.
    • Samuel Johnson, On the Death of Mr. Robert Levet, Stanza 5. In Boswell's Life of Johnson (1782). ("Useful care" reads "ready help" in first ed.).
  • Shut not thy purse-strings always against painted distress.
    • Charles Lamb, Complaint of the Decay of Beggars in the Metropolis.
  • Help thi kynne, Crist bit (biddeth), for ther bygynneth charitie.
  • Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,
    Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.
  • Nec sibi sed toti genitum se credere mundo.
    • He believed that he was born, not for himself, but for the whole world.
    • Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Pharsalia, II. 383.
  • To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is Godlike.
  • Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them.
    • Matthew, VI. 1.
  • When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.
    • Matthew, VI. 3.
  • Pity the sorrows of a poor old man,
    Whose trembling limbs have brought him to your door.
  • The organized charity, scrimped and iced,
    In the name of a cautious, statistical Christ.
  • Misero datur quodcunque, fortunæ datur.
  • 'Tis a little thing
    To give a cup of water; yet its draught
    Of cool refreshment, drain'd by fever'd lips,
    May give a shock of pleasure to the frame
    More exquisite than when nectarean juice
    Renews the life of joy in happiest hours.
  • Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco.
    • Being myself no stranger to suffering, I have learned to relieve the sufferings of others.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), I. 630.
  • The poor must be wisely visited and liberally cared for, so that mendicity shall not be tempted into mendacity, nor want exasperated into crime.

See also


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