The History of Philanthropy in the United States

A look at the history of philanthropy in the United States and how it has helped to shape the country.

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The Beginnings of American Philanthropy

Philanthropy in the United States has a long and rich history. Some of the country’s earliest philanthropists include Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. These men and other early American philanthropists helped to establish many of the country’s most important charitable institutions.

The Puritans and Charity

The Puritans, who arrived in Massachusetts in the 1630s, brought with them a tradition of charity and self-help. In the Old World, the giving of alms to the poor was a religious duty required by the Church. In the New World, the Puritans established a system of voluntary giving and cooperative assistance that was based on their religious beliefs.

The Puritans believed that all humans were equal in God’s eyes and that everyone had a duty to help those in need. They also believed that people should help each other because it was good for society as a whole. The Puritans established charities to help the sick, the elderly, and orphans. They also set up schools and libraries so that everyone would have access to education.

The tradition of Puritan charity was continued by the Pilgrims, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1620. The Pilgrims also believed in helping those in need and established charities to assist the poor and sick. The tradition of American philanthropy began with the actions of these early settlers.

Benjamin Franklin and Philanthropy

The history of philanthropy in the United States begins with Benjamin Franklin. In 1743, he organized the Philadelphia Contributionship, the first fire insurance company in America. He also helped to establish the Union Fire Company, which is still in operation today.

In 1749, Franklin wrote an essay entitled “Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind,” which outlined his idea that society should help those who are unable to help themselves. This essay had a significant impact on the development of philanthropy in America.

In 1790, George Washington signed into law the establishment of the first national bank, which was intended to help improve the economy. This act was a major step forward for philanthropy in America.

Today, philanthropy in the United States is a massive industry. According to Giving USA, Americans gave more than $410 billion to charity in 2016. This figure represents an increase of 3 percent from the previous year.

The Development of American Philanthropy

The history of philanthropy in the United States begins in the colonial era, when the first English settlers established charitable organizations to help the poor and needy. The tradition of giving back to the community continued throughout the American Revolution and the early years of the Republic. In the 19th century, wealthy Americans began to establish foundations to support the arts, education, and other causes. The tradition of philanthropy continues today, with Americans giving billions of dollars to charitable organizations each year.

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The Rise of the Common Man

The rise of the common man in the United States was a major factor in the development of philanthropy in the country. Prior to the rise of the common man, philanthropy was largely the domain of the wealthy elite. However, with the rise of the common man, philanthropy became more democratized and accessible to a wider segment of society.

One of the most important factors in the rise of philanthropy among the common man was the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution led to a vast increase in wealth among the middle class, which created a new class of philanthropists. These new philanthropists were often motivated by a desire to help those less fortunate than themselves, as well as a belief that their wealth could be used to make a positive difference in society.

The rise of democracy in the United States was another important factor that contributed to the development of philanthropy. As democracy took hold, Americans became increasingly interested in using their wealth to improve society and help those in need. This interest was reflected in the establishment of numerous philanthropic organizations during this period, such as The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

The Great Depression was another significant event that shaped American philanthropy. The Depression led to an increased awareness of poverty and inequality, and many Americans began to see philanthropy as a way to address these problems. The New Deal programs established by President Franklin Roosevelt also played a role in promoting philanthropy, by providing funding for charitable organizations and encouraging Americans to donate time and money to worthy causes.

The Civil War and Philanthropy

The Civil War (1861-1865) was a turning point in the history of philanthropy in the United States. The war resulted in the deaths of more than 600,000 Americans, both soldiers and civilians, and left the nation’s economy in ruins. In the aftermath of the war, many Americans were eager to help their fellow citizens rebuild their lives and repair the damage that had been done.

One of the most significant philanthropic organizations to emerge from this period was the American Red Cross. Founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, the Red Cross provided aid to victims of natural disasters and wars. The organization quickly became one of the most respected and well-known philanthropies in the country.

Today, philanthropy in the United States is big business. Americans give billions of dollars to charity each year, and there are thousands of foundations and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of others. Whether you’re interested in donating your time or your money, there’s a charity out there that needs your help!

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The Gilded Age and Philanthropy

The era known as the Gilded Age (1870-1900) was one of great economic, social, and technological change in the United States. This period is so named because it was a time when a small number of very wealthy individuals controlled a large portion of the country’s resources. The Gilded Age was also a time of great philanthropy, as many of these individuals used their wealth to support charitable causes.

One of the most prominent philanthropists of the Gilded Age was Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie made his fortune in the steel industry and then used his wealth to fund libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions across the United States. His most famous philanthropic act was the funding of the Carnegie Corporation, which provided grants to support education and research.

Another major philanthropist of the Gilded Age was John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller made his fortune in the oil industry and then used his wealth to fund medical research and education. He established the University of Chicago and the Rockefeller Foundation, which is still one of the largest private foundations in the world.

The Gilded Age was a time of tremendous growth for philanthropy in the United States. The fortunes made by industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller allowed them to support a wide variety of charitable causes, which helped to improve American society during this period

The Modern Era of Philanthropy

The modern era of philanthropy in the United States can be traced back to Andrew Carnegie and his essay “The Gospel of Wealth.” In it, Carnegie argued that the rich have a responsibility to use their wealth for the good of society. This era of philanthropy is often referred to as “old money philanthropy.”

The Great Depression and Philanthropy

The Great Depression was a time of great need, and philanthropy played an important role in providing relief. Foundations and individual donors stepped up to help those who were struggling. One of the most notable examples is the Rockefeller Foundation, which made a major commitment to help farmers in the Midwest who were affected by the Dust Bowl.

The Great Depression also saw the rise of new philanthropic organizations, such as the United Way, which was established in 1931. The United Way is a network of community-based organizations that provides support and assistance to people in need. It is one of the most well-known philanthropic organizations in the United States, and it continues to play a vital role in helping people today.

The Post-War Era and Philanthropy

Just as the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, so too did its philanthropic sector. Newfound prosperity and a renewed sense of optimism led to increased giving, and philanthropy began to play an increasingly important role in American society.

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One of the most significant trends of this period was the rise of corporate philanthropy. As companies began to prosper in the postwar economy, many began to see philanthropy as a way to give back to society and improve their public image. In addition, the tax laws of the time encouraged corporations to give more by providing them with tax breaks for their charitable donations.

The postwar era also saw the emergence of a new kind of philanthropist: the wealthy individual donor. Thanks to a booming stock market and a growing economy, individuals had more money than ever before, and many used their newfound wealth to support charitable causes. One of the most famous individual donors of this period was Bill Gates, who along with his wife Melinda Gates, has given away billions of dollars to charity through their foundation.

Philanthropy continued to grow in importance throughout the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st century. Today, it is estimated that there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, and Americans give billions of dollars to charity every year.

The New Millennium and Philanthropy

The new millennium has seen philanthropy in the United States evolve in many ways. One significant change has been an increased focus on international giving. In 2000, estimate that Americans donated about $10 billion to international causes, which was about 2 percent of all charitable giving. By 2015, that figure had grown to $27.5 billion, or about 7 percent of all giving. This increase is due in part to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which led many Americans to want to help people in other parts of the world who were suffering from violence and poverty.

another significant change has been the growth of online giving. In 2000, only about 1 percent of all charitable donations were made online. By 2015, that figure had grown to about 7 percent. This increase is due in part to the fact that it is now easier than ever for donors to find information about charities and make donations with a few clicks of a mouse.

Finally, there has been an increased focus on impact investing, which is a type of philanthropy that seeks to achieve both financial returns and social or environmental impact. Impact investors typically invest in businesses or projects that they believe will have a positive impact on society or the environment, such as renewable energy or affordable housing. In 2015, estimates indicate that there was about $77 billion worth of impact investing assets under management globally.

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