How Philanthropy Can Respond in a Time of Crisis
Meeting the moment with purpose
The original purpose of philanthropy can be traced back to a question posed by Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie in his 1889 article The Gospel of Wealth:
“What is the proper mode of administering wealth after the laws upon which civilization is founded have thrown it into the hands of the few?”
Carnegie saw that surplus and unequal wealth was an undeniable outcome of capitalism. In the absence of a superior alternative economic system, he promoted a mode of redistribution to serve as “the true antidote for the temporary unequal distribution of wealth.” Although contested at the time, Carnegie suggested “there is but one right mode of using enormous fortunes—namely, that the possessors from time to time during their own lives should administer them so as to promote the permanent good of the communities from which they have been gathered.” Through this message, modern-day philanthropy was born.
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