Historically, it is difficult to claim that charitable acts on an institutional level emerged in the 18th century. It can be assumed, that for as long as civilization has existed, there has always been a kind of charitable system in place. Especially with the strong presence of religion and philosophy, movements to build up the masses must have been in place.
Modern charitable foundations often align themselves with a specific cause. This focus ensures that the service provided is rooted in the context, concerns, and benefit of the community. They function sustainably, creating enough income for their services, but not for the sake of profit or personal gain. There are three major sectors that these foundations focus on:
Health is a broad sector. It can cover something as essential as clean water, nutrition, and food supply to hygiene. For organizations that tackle basic needs, they often work with the donation of goods and fundraisers. The struggle with working with basic needs is that solutions need to be able to travel to far-flung locations where often health issues are deeply related to the environment.
Some organizations fight for awareness, medication, and further research of numerous diseases such as multiple scoliosis, muscle dystrophy, diabetes, and cancer. Their fundraisers try to attract as much attention as possible. Some have become viral trends. A famous example is the ASL ice bucket challenge which earned $115 million in 2013.
Other health organizations focus on service. Dentistry, surgery, or plastic surgery is brought to communities and individuals that do not have access to that kind of care. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is a popular example of an organization that moves people to provide medical care in areas that need it the most.
Charity organizations for education are also vast. Each group varies with a target audience, service, and reach. Some groups focus on students with learning disabilities while others focus on those who cannot afford to go to school. Some groups aim to improve literacy rates while others focus on tertiary education and other specializations. The former has afterschool classes, workshops, and other teaching settings in areas that require aid. The latter focuses on offering scholarships and similar subsidiaries for students.
Organizations for education often align themselves with an institution like how the International Chodiev Foundation works with the Moscow Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). These partnerships offer scholarship and internship opportunities.
Organizations that work in culture can be summarized with their position in history: they either preserve or create. For the preservation of culture, organizations align themselves with minority communities for the sake of upholding tradition and educating others about their history. For the creation of culture, organizations fight for civil and humanitarian rights. They work to make policy changes and improvements that empower a disenfranchised community.
There are so many more sectors and subsections, and no one can be placed above the other. They all work together as they work on their own since the efforts are for the greater good.