Philanthropists strive to improve the world by donating time and money toward various organizations and causes. At the heart of philanthropy is compassion and empathy. Being able to understand the needs of others and recognize the importance of external aid for the sake of helping efforts to eliminate suffering resounds clearly among philanthropists. Empathy guides philanthropists to donate to causes that not only align with their personal values but also seek a better world for all.


Empathy & Compassion

Though similar in nature, empathy and compassion do bear some differences. Compassion entails feeling for someone else who is dealing with a problem or condition; in some ways, it can manifest as pity. Empathy, on the other hand, is more involved. Being empathetic entails putting oneself in the shoes of another and trying to understand what they are feeling and what would alleviate their suffering. In many ways, empathetic individuals are essential to the success of philanthropic endeavors. 


Empathy in Philanthropy

The role of empathy in philanthropy is multi-faceted. Empathetic philanthropists are more inclined to donate to causes that have a direct influence on the well-being of others; they may target organizations that provide physical aid to individuals or supply resources for a cause such as ending hunger or saving the rainforest.

In nonprofits, empathy also plays a role on an internal level. When it comes to writing grants or planning projects, empathy allows individuals involved in philanthropic organizations to focus on the immediate and long-term needs of the communities they serve. Empathy also prevents philanthropists from focusing on things like unnecessary paperwork or marketing efforts and instead allows them to prioritize what really matters.


Individuals who are involved in philanthropy often benefit from empathy as it allows them to more appropriately and effectively focus their time and donation efforts. Empathy encourages open discussion, forethought, compassion, and humanitarianism in all areas of philanthropy, from grantmaking and project implementation to volunteer organization and more. 

Working to understand the needs and concerns of a given community often prove more effective for philanthropic organizations when it comes to enacting change and making a lasting difference.