In a previous posting, the beginnings of philanthropy were discussed beginning with the end of the Medieval Age and going through the Napoleonic and Revolutionary Wars. Here, philanthropy from the late 19th century to the late 20th century will be discussed.
Gospel of Wealth
The late 19th century’s philanthropy was marked by Andrew Carnegie’s 1889 Gospel of Wealth. In this manifesto, of sorts, Carnegie called for millionaires at the time to distribute their wealth for the greater good. Carnegie and those who helped shape the idea of the Gospel of Wealth decided it would be best to utilize living trusts so they could help the public good during and after their lives. This was the foundation of modern philanthropy as we know it today. The efforts put forth by Carnegie and his colleagues had long-term positive effects on education, science, culture, and worldwide public health.
During this time, Alfred Nobel gave a large portion of his wealth to begin a prize for “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” The first prizes were awarded in 1901 by acknowledging achievements in chemistry, physics, medicine, literature, and peace. Hence, the Nobel Prize was born.
In the mid-twentieth century, major events of the century contributed to changes in philanthropy practices. With new nation-states developing and a global economic downturn, governments became even more involved in social welfare. As a result, this changed the role of private philanthropy. World War II led to a large outflowing of support for the soldiers and civilians as money, supplies, and services.
After World War II, civil and human rights issues came into prominence. Community-based organizations began to increase their support for minority causes. Around the same time, women began to become more influential in philanthropy by exploring how philanthropy could support all of humankind. The practices developed and set forth after World War II are still utilized in present-day philanthropy.
As previously mentioned, philanthropy is a large practice to encompass. If you’d like the background of the early beginnings of philanthropy, you can read part one of this series. Part three focuses on the philanthropy of the late 20th century to present day.