Here are some interesting quotes on philanthropy.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the creative light of altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness.  This is the judgement.  Life’s persistent and most urgent question is “What are you doing for others?”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

When asked what message she would bring [to the class], Mrs. Buffett replied: “Know the people in your town.  Who are the fakers and who are the people who really do the work and are not building empires.
Doris Buffett, Warren Buffett’s sister, was quoted in the Globe and Mail January 2, 2009 in relation to her supporting a class on philanthropy at McMaster University:

Ridiculous yachts and private planes and big limousines won’t make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa – and it’s about getting a balance.
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire:

Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.
Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Philanthropy is all about making a positive difference in the world by devoting your resources and your time to causes you believe in. In my case, I like to support causes where “a lot of good comes from a little bit of good,” or, in other words, where the positive social returns vastly exceed the amount of time and money invested.
Jeff Skoll

As I started getting rich, I started thinking, ‘what the hell am I going to do with all this money?’… You have to learn to give.
Ted Turner, founder of CNN who donated over a billion dollars to the UN.

To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man power nor an easy matter.

Charity begins at home.

Charity begins at home but should not end there.
Sir Francis Bacon

Difficult things we do quickly. The impossible takes a little longer.
David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel

Every dollar makes a difference. And that’s true whether it’s Warren Buffett’s remarkable $31 billion pledge to the Gates Foundation, or my late father’s $25 check to the NAACP.
Michael Bloomberg

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
Winston Churchill

How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Anne Frank

I would rather have it said, ‘He lived usefully,’ than, ‘He died rich.’
Benjamin Franklin

When I do good, I feel good? when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.
Abraham Lincoln

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

We are, after all, only trustees of the wealth we possess.  Without the community and its resources… there would be little wealth for anyone.
John Ruskin

I’m not doing my philanthropic work, out of any kind of guilt, or any need to create good public relations. I’m doing it because I can afford to do it, and I believe in it.
George Soros

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
Booker T. Washington

Once asked what action he would recommend if a person were to feel a nervous breakdown coming on:  “Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, and find someone in need and do something for him.”
Karl A. Menninger

Never respect men merely for their riches, but rather for their philanthropy; we do not value the sun for its height, but for its use.
Gamaliel Bailey, doctor and abolitionist

We have previously suggested that philanthropy combines genuine pity with the display of power and that the latter element explains why the powerful are more inclined to be generous than to grant social justice.
Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society, 1932

… the act of giving can cause great harm as well as important good.
William Damon, 2006

The greatest harms occur when gifts are bestowed haphazardly, without forethought, without regard for their effects.
James Allen Smith

Modern grant seeking processes can be as drawn out and humiliating as anything faced by a poor person pleading for assistance in antiquity.
James Allen Smith


When you are in the business of giving away money, people have a tendency to tell you what they think you want to hear.
Thomas J. Tierney



Many pitfalls and obstacles stem directly from the nature of the pursuit of good work in philanthropy. The altruism at the center of the philanthropic mission is so praiseworthy in itself that it can lead to complacency in how the gift-giving mission is pursued. Compounding this complacency, control of significant financial resources always implies a certain power that can breed arrogance and hubris. Complacency, arrogance, and hubris do not constitute a good mindset for learning: they are more likely to foster the kind of “know-nothing” stance that can lead to unexamined failure.
William Damon in Taking Philanthropy Seriously: Beyond Noble Intentions to Responsible Giving