Philanthropy means "love of humanity" in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing "what it is to be human" on both the benefactors' and beneficiaries' parts.

The most conventional modern definition is "private initiatives, for public good, focusing on quality of life".

Instances of philanthropy commonly overlap with instances of charity, though not all charity is philanthropy, or vice versa. The difference commonly cited is that charity relieves the pains of social problems, whereas philanthropy attempts to solve those problems at their root causes (the difference between giving a hungry man a fish, and teaching him how to fish for himself). A person who practices philanthropy is called a philanthropist.