Charitable, benevolent, humane, humanitarian, philanthropic, eleemosynary, altruistic are comparable when they mean having or showing interest in or being concerned with the welfare of others.
Charitable stresses either active generosity to the poor or leniency and mercifulness in one’s judgments of others, but in each case it usually retains in some degree the implications of fraternal love or of compassion as the animating spirit behind the gift or the judgment.
Benevolent also stresses some inner compulsion (as native kindliness, a desire to do good, or an interest in others’ happiness and wellbeing). In contrast with charitable, however, it more often suggests an innate disposition than an inculcated virtue.
Humane implies tenderness and compassion, sometimes as qualities of one’s temperament, but sometimes as required qualifications of enlightened and sensitive human beings; it is referable chiefly, but not exclusively, to methods and policies affecting the welfare of others.
Humanitarian suggests an interest in the welfare or well-being of mankind or of a particular class or group of men more than of the individual; it is applied especially to acts, outlooks, and policies (as of institutions, rulers, or governments).
Philanthropic and eleemosynary also suggest interest in humanity rather than in the individual, but they commonly imply (as humanitarian does not) the giving of money on a large scale to organized charities, to institutions for human advancement or social service, or to humanitarian causes.
Altruistic presupposes the guidance of an ethical principle: that the interests of others should be placed above those of self; it usually implies the absence of selfishness and often indifference to one’s own welfare or interests.