What truly helps people is fully investing yourself in a cause for philanthropy. Doing things for a good cause should not be something that is meant to stand out on an application, but rather something you do just for the sake of doing. Thoreau says that if a man is very good at something he does, and if he invests his whole heart and soul and life, to continue what he does. He also says "if you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to them." This means that instead of donating to someone in need, help the person learn how to support themselves. Instead of giving someone a fish, teach them how to fish. People who receive money will not always know what to do with it.
Thoreau, it seems, is almost afraid of philanthropy. He shows this by saying "if I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life". This is an agreeable statement, because most people do not want other people to make their lives better, but they would prefer to find a way to do it themselves. Thoreau then says that "A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one." He says this because anybody can do those things, even a dog.