Thoreau does not necessarily feel that philanthropy is always a fake, "feel-good" activity, but feels that it is only legitimately helpful if you constantly are involved. Thoreau does not want people the they are "god like" just because they go out of their way for a partial time to help someone. If you are to give, you are to give fully, passionately, and for an immense amount of time.
Thoreau states that philanthropy is something that he has never really gotten into;“I confess that I have hitherto indulged very little in philanthropic enterprises.” (Fitz's abbreviated Walden, page 33) He speaks about minimal times when he has actually gone out to help somebody, but instead talks about why you should not bother trying to help if you are not going all in; "“His goodness must not be a partial and transitory act, but a constant superfluity, which costs him nothing and of which he is unconscious." (Fitz's abbreviated Walden, page 35) This quote also shows Thoreau's hate for using money in a philanthropical way. He feels as if using money like this is an example of not fully participating, but instead only being there for part of the time.
Thoreau is passionate on the principle of not worrying about bettering others, but instead worrying about bettering yourself. In some ways I do agree with this, but I feel that a variation is at most necessary. No matter what way your passions in life take you, my advice would be to do whatever it is that will lead the world in the most optimistic direction, but have fun doing it. Whether this means following a philanthropical road or not, I sincerely hope that there will be a day in our world where everyone is given the opportunity to pursue their passions; “Do not stay to be an overseer of the poor, but endeavor to become one of the worthies of the world.” (Fitz's abbreviated Walden, page 35)
“Be sure that you give the poor the aid they most need, though it be your example which leaves them far behind. If you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to them. We make curious mistakes sometimes. Often the poor man is not so cold and hungry as he is dirty and ragged and gross. It is partly his taste, and not merely his misfortune. If you give him money, he will perhaps buy more rags with it.” (Fitz's abbreviated Walden, page 34) This metaphor does an exquisite job of explaining why not to give more than needed. Sometimes people may look like they are in bad shape, but that may in fact be their way of life.