Weekly Word Archives

Weekly Word 7 April 2015

Photo copyright 2012; design copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Photo copyright 2012; design copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

| fɪˈlanθrəpi |

If you look at the etymology of “philanthropy” below, you’ll see that it is ultimately rooted in Greek – in two root words that are very commonly used today in English. The first is philia, or “fondness” – denoting a state of loving, such as used in words like glossophilia and hemophilia. The second is anthrōpos, or “man”, hence anthropology. It is very directly presented, therefore, that to be a philanthropist or to practice philanthropy is to hold a basic love for mankind.

If you also look at the Chinese and Japanese terms, they’re the same as that for charity. Indeed, in BCYF, we group charity and philanthropy together. On my side, if one looks at things from a Christian viewpoint, then charity and philanthropy are two sides of the same coin – or are the same side themself.

I remember the summary of the presentation of Mr. Thomas Thomas from the 2nd Philippine Conference on Research in CSR – CSR in Asia is not new. That these East Asian cultures treat what may be seen in Euro-American civilization as different as identical shows an innate and primeval wisdom that is exemplified time and again by ancient China – the same way that, without bragging their achievements to the world, they had been more advanced than their fellow ancient world civilizations and contributed so much to modern society more than one may think usually.

But I ramble. My point being, yes, what is there to differ between charity and philanthropy? Unfortunately, modern diction has given both a denotation and a connotation to these two terms in relation to money – that charity and philanthropy are all about helping the poor through monetary donations. As Christians, we know better than that – true charity is showing goodness towards others, even if it is not monetary. In fact, the Oxford Dictionary also defines (Christian charity) as “love of humankind, typically in a Christian context”. Sounds familiar? They just defined philanthropy.

I find it sad that today, a person’s “contributions to charity” or “philanthropic works” are judged by how much they have given in terms of financial gifts. While donating money is good, it is not everything. The purest form of charity and philanthropy – the purest form of loving mankind – is giving oneself. Just as God performed the ultimate act of charity and philanthropy – in His literal love for mankind – by giving Himself up as Jesus Christ to die for our sins, so too are we called to live our entire lives in the spirit of true philanthropy – by showing love for others. It doesn’t have to be about money – even spending quality time with others is already philanthropy. That you choose to give them your time is also a generous donation on your part – for time can never be recovered, while money can be. As such, time spent, in fact, is giving more than money spent.

As we begin the season of Easter, let us remember that it really is all about giving yourself integrally, holistically, to lay down your life for others’ sake, and especially for His sake.

Have a blessed week ahead!


noun [mass noun]

  • the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes
    • [count noun; North American English] a philanthropic institution; a charity


Early 17th century, via late Latin from Greek philanthrōpia, itself from philanthrōpos (“man-loving”).

In other languages

  • Bahasa Indonesia: kedermawanan
  • بهاس ملايو:
    • كدرماوانن (kedermawanan)
  • Cebuano: pagkamanggihatagon
  • Deutsch: die Philanthropie
  • Español: la filantropía
  • Filipino: pagkakawanggawa
  • Français: la philanthropie
  • 한국어: 박애 (bag-ae)
  • Italiano: la filantropia
  • ភាសាខ្មែរ: សុខុមាលភាព (sokhomalpheap)
  • Latino: philanthropia
  • မြန်မာဘာသာ: ပရဟိတအလှူများ (parahit aalhauumyarr)
  • 日本語: 慈善活動 (じぜんかつどう); 慈善 (じぜん)
  • ภาษาไทย: การทำบุญ (kār thảbuỵ)
  • தமிழ்: நேயத்தின் (nēyattiṉ)
  • Tiếng Việt: lòng thương người
  • 中文: 慈善事業 / 慈善事业 (císhàn shìyè); 和藹 / 和蔼 (héǎi)

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