It is a common belief now that the explanation of the microscopic origin of the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy of black holes should be available in quantum gravity theory, whatever this theory will finally look like. Calculations of the entropy of certain black holes in string theory do support this point of view. In the last few years there also appeared a hope that an understanding of black hole entropy may be possible even without knowing the details of quantum gravity. The thermodynamics of black holes is a low energy phenomenon, so only a few general features of the fundamental theory may be really important. The aim of this review is to describe some of the proposals in this direction and the results obtained.