Understanding Philanthropy: Its Meaning and Mission

Understanding Philanthropy: Its Meaning and Mission

Understanding Philanthropy: Its Meaning and Mission

Understanding Philanthropy: Its Meaning and Mission

Synopsis

Philanthropy has existed in various forms in all cultures and civilizations throughout history, yet most people know little about it and its distinctive place in our lives. Why does philanthropy exist? Why do people so often turn to philanthropy when we want to make the world a better place? In essence, what is philanthropy? These fundamental questions are tackled in this engaging and original book. Written by one of the founding figures in the field of philanthropic studies, Robert L. Payton, and his former student sociologist Michael P. Moody, Understanding Philanthropy presents a new way of thinking about the meaning and mission of philanthropy. Weaving together accessible theoretical explanations with fascinating examples of philanthropic action, this book advances key scholarly debates about philanthropy and offers practitioners a way of explaining the rationale for their nonprofit efforts.

Excerpt

Oseola McCarty worked for most of her life as a paid-by-thebundle washerwoman, and yet she managed to build up substantial savings through frugal living—she never owned a car—and slow, steady accumulation. She saved enough so that in 1995, when she was eighty-seven, Ms. McCarty was able to make a gift of $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi for an endowment that would provide scholarships for needy African American students.

Although her gift made her famous, Ms. McCarty could hardly have expected the attention she received. On the first anniversary of the gift, she was the subject of a feature story on the front page of the New York Times. Her gift was seen as an extraordinary act of generosity, both because she denied herself in order to save the money and because she was giving an opportunity to others that she had been denied herself. The Times reported that famous people had come to kneel at her feet, to sing to her, to praise her as a saint. President Clinton awarded her the Presidential Citizens Medal, and Harvard gave her an honorary doctorate.

The story of Oseola McCarty’s generosity raises key questions about philanthropy: Why did she make such a gift? Why did she decide that philanthropy was the ultimate purpose of her hard-earned savings? How was she connected to the young people she would help? Why do we celebrate and admire her so much more because she gave the money away in this manner, rather than simply because she saved it or worked hard to earn it?

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.