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Philanthropy in America

Philanthropy in America: A History

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 396
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    Philanthropy in America
    Book Description:

    American philanthropy today expands knowledge, champions social movements, defines active citizenship, influences policymaking, and addresses humanitarian crises. How did philanthropy become such a powerful and integral force in American society?Philanthropy in Americais the first book to explore in depth the twentieth-century growth of this unique phenomenon. Ranging from the influential large-scale foundations established by tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller, Sr., and the mass mobilization of small donors by the Red Cross and March of Dimes, to the recent social advocacy of individuals like Bill Gates and George Soros, respected historian Olivier Zunz chronicles the tight connections between private giving and public affairs, and shows how this union has enlarged democracy and shaped history.

    Zunz looks at the ways in which American philanthropy emerged not as charity work, but as an open and sometimes controversial means to foster independent investigation, problem solving, and the greater good. Andrew Carnegie supported science research and higher education, catapulting these fields to a prominent position on the world stage. In the 1950s, Howard Pew deliberately funded the young Billy Graham to counter liberal philanthropies, prefiguring the culture wars and increased philanthropic support for religious causes. And in the 1960s, the Ford Foundation supported civil rights through education, voter registration drives, and community action programs. Zunz argues that American giving allowed the country to export its ideals abroad after World War II, and he examines the federal tax policies that unified the diverse nonprofit sector.

    Demonstrating that America has cultivated and relied on philanthropy more than any other country,Philanthropy in Americaexamines how giving for the betterment of all became embedded in the fabric of the nation's civic democracy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3941-4
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
    Olivier Zunz
    (pp. 1-7)

    “To spend money is easy, to spend it well is hard,” wrote economist Wesley Mitchell in the pages of theAmerican Economic Reviewin 1912, elaborating on the “backward art of spending money” that characterized most Americans.¹ Mitchell contrasted the American consumer’s “ignorance” with the big industrialist’s efficient expenditure based upon accumulated empirical knowledge. As the founding director of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a think tank the newly created Commonwealth Fund bankrolled in 1919, Mitchell soon became the beneficiary of another kind of expenditure that reflected the exploratory habit of mind of some contemporary industrialists and other Americans...

  5. CHAPTER 1 ʺFor the Improvement of Mankindʺ
    (pp. 8-43)

    In the span of two generations following the Civil War, an unprecedented number of Americans became rich and powerful enough to shape community and national affairs by themselves. In the 1870s, there were just 100 millionaires in the United States. During the next twenty years, more people made more money more rapidly than ever before in history, and they made very large gifts to society. In 1892, theNew York Tribunecounted 4,047 millionaires.¹ By 1916, there were over 40,000, and at least two of these millionaires, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., and Henry Ford (the second having contributed much to...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Coming of Mass Philanthropy
    (pp. 44-75)

    Turning large fortunes into public assets for the good of mankind was a huge project. But what gave philanthropy even more of a central place in modern American life was the simultaneous creation of a people’s philanthropy—or mass philanthropy—that engaged the large American middle and working classes in their own welfare.

    Philanthropy would not be a democratic value if it remained the domain of the wealthy. Only when the rest of the population aligned its old welfare institutions and charitable habits to the systematic search for the common good would philanthropy become a national commitment. One requirement for...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Regulatory Compromise
    (pp. 76-103)

    As American foundations pursued a new open-ended philanthropy, one that broke away from centuries of targeted giving, and mass philanthropic institutions systematized fundraising to the broad American public, the nonprofit sector quite naturally began to weigh in on public issues. The growth and rising influence of this privately-funded sector posed anew the old question (at the origin of the British 1601 Statute of Charitable Uses) of what constitutes an eleemosynary (or charitable) gift and what its role should be in public discourse and policy. At the dawn of the twentieth century, many Americans found themselves using philanthropic resources to which...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Private Funding of Affairs of State
    (pp. 104-136)

    Herbert Hoover, who had been one of the great spokesmen of voluntarism during the First World War, sought to make institutions of philanthropy full participants in the “compound republic,” as James Madison characterized the nation and its different levels of government. In formulating policy as secretary of commerce from 1921 to 1928, Hoover sought technical support from foundations and think tanks; in directing disaster relief, he orchestrated the work of the Red Cross, community chests, and other institutions of mass philanthropy. Hoover expanded his experiment in federally directed philanthropy when president of the United States in an effort to confront...

  9. CHAPTER 5 From Humanitarianism to Cold War
    (pp. 137-168)

    The clear division of labor between government and civil society that the New Deal had insisted upon to lift the country out of the Great Depression became irrelevant during and after World War II. American philanthropic organizations now turned their attention overseas to rescue war victims and assist in reconstruction. Although there was no grand design, the ways in which Americans combined government and philanthropic resources made humanitarianism an important part of the Pax Americana. Humanitarian aid emerged as, in Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’s words, “a force of enduring strength that can bind together the peoples of the...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Philanthropy at Midcentury: ʺTimid Billionsʺ?
    (pp. 169-200)

    By the middle of the twentieth century, Americans had created a large philanthropic enterprise that was part of the fabric of their daily lives. It included an impressively diverse set of institutions, ranging from local community chests to national health organizations, from small family foundations to wealthy general-purpose foundations. By 1938, there were still only 188 foundations in the United States, but for the first time a significant number of them were located outside of the Northeast. During the war years, the number of charitable foundations more than doubled, to 505, and this figure would nearly triple by 1955, when...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Investing in Civil Rights
    (pp. 201-231)

    As the civil rights movement gained momentum in the early 1960s, a small group of philanthropic foundations threw themselves wholeheartedly into the national campaign to end racial segregation. The Taconic Foundation, the Field Foundation, and the Stern Family Fund among the small foundations and the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation among the larger ones provided civil rights leaders with seed funds to register black voters in both North and South, boost minority entrepreneurship, and shore up education. They remained committed to supporting civil rights even as the movement radicalized. The overall mandate was “equality of opportunity,” said national security adviser...

  12. CHAPTER 8 In Search of a Nonprofit Sector
    (pp. 232-263)

    The challenge was to find a common voice for a sector of American society that had long resisted aggregation. The task fell to a small group of philanthropists and politicians who were deeply concerned about the future of American private philanthropy. Prominent among them in the decades between the mid-60s and the1980s were John D. Rockefeller III, a third generation philanthropist; John Gardner, a former president of the Carnegie Corporation who, as President Johnson’s Health, Education, and Welfare Secretary, had introduced Medicare; and Daniel P. Moynihan, a U.S. senator from New York steeped in political science. These men now saw...

  13. CHAPTER 9 American Philanthropy and the World’s Communities
    (pp. 264-293)

    During the Cold War, when America’s national objective was to combat communism, philanthropic institutions tended to align their activities abroad with those of their government. When finally free from Cold War commitments, they joined an unstable but powerful associational movement that has reshaped civil society in many parts of the world.¹ The collapse of the Soviet Union and the loosening of its grip on its client nations freed voluntary energies in many parts of the world. It reawakened as well the possibilities of a market economy and free associations in places where these had been repressed.² American philanthropies therefore saw...

    (pp. 294-300)

    As this history has shown, philanthropy in the United States is not simply the consequence of a universal altruistic impulse; it is also a product of the large organizational revolution that American managerial and financial capitalism orchestrated in the last century and a half.¹ Adam Smith made the case for universalism in the opening of his classicThe Theory of Moral Sentimentsby observing: “How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 301-350)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 351-382)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 383-384)