The article investigates the emergence and transformation of humanitarian associations in Egypt from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. It argues that on the one hand these associations were new institutions echoing the foundation of new charitable organisations worldwide and in Egypt. The colonial domination of Egypt and its refusal by the Egyptians thereby played a prominent role. On the other hand, the humanitarian associations have to be seen in the continuity of long-established practices and discourses of charity, performed in particular by religious endowments (awqāf). Based on the example of the Egyptian Red Crescent, which is explored through a wide range of un explorer Egyptian, British and Swiss archives as well as a broad historiography in European and Arabic languages, this article emphasises the interconnections between international, regional, national and local institutions in Egypt in the field of philanthropy.