Overview

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 America is 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 ...

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Philanthropy in America: A History

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Overview

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 America is 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.

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

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Editorial Reviews

The Nation
In a sweeping, insightful history, Olivier Zunz has traced the evolution of American philanthropy over the past 150 years and its contribution to democracy and civil society. What is particularly satisfying is his focus—somewhat rare among books about American philanthropy—on the extent to which foundations and other grantmaking programs have been involved in shaping national affairs and public policy. This involvement, Zunz rightfully claims, has been an important force not only in strengthening American democracy but in establishing philanthropic institutions as integral parts of society. . . . A splendid book about philanthropy in America.
— Pablo Eisenberg
Philanthropy 2173
Chapters on the relationship between the institution of income taxes, the price of war, and the creation of 'mass philanthropy' will make any reader stop and ask deeper questions about the contemporary relationship between those same structures. It's a great overview and should be read by everyone currently active in nonprofits or foundations who has ever asked, 'Wait, why do we do it this way?'
— Lucy Bernholz
Philanthropy Daily
Will be of interest to all those who wish to understand better the development of a distinctive style of American philanthropy since the Civil War. . . . Important.
— Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill
Chronicle of Philanthropy
In Philanthropy in America, a beautifully written and constantly engaging new book, the historian Olivier Zunz takes the reader on a journey from the mid-19th century origins of organized giving to the present day.
— Michael Edwards
eHistory
A quiz to start with: What do Americans fund every year at levels comparable to annual budget of the Pentagon? Answer: the non-profit sector. Olivier Zunz drops that small, astonishing fact at the beginning of his splendid history of philanthropy and it serves as a double reminder: first, philanthropy in the United States has grown to be an enormous enterprise; and second, we don't have a comprehensive sense of its history . . . until now. Philanthropy in America stands as the best introduction to the topic and I am quite sure that it will be the starting point for other scholars who want to investigate some of the many issues raised by this book.
— Steven Conn
Financial Times
One of the lessons of Olivier Zunz's meticulous new history, however, is that innovation in philanthropy is not new. There has been constant evolution in the ways that US citizens donate to good causes, in how private charity interacts with government policy, and in the degree to which it is dominated by the wealthy.J
— ohn Gapper
Philanthropy Roundtable
[A] solid history of the foundation-building movement that began in the late-19th century and continues to this day. And much of that history is fascinating. Zunz recounts a number of largely forgotten historical episodes. He describes the rise of associated philanthropic groups (like the United Way or the March of Dimes), the anti-communist efforts of American foundations early in the Cold War, and even the critical support provided by J. Howard Pew to an up-and-coming Billy Graham.
— John Steele Gordon
Advocate
His new and remarkable book tells the story of the last 100-plus years of organized philanthropy, from the days of Andrew Carnegie to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Turning the pages, one quickly sees that the impulse to spend money well—a quintessentially American preoccupation—is, nevertheless, not as tame as one imagines.
— Andrew Burstein
eJewish Philanthropy
Zunz's book not only documents the historical development of philanthropy, philanthropists' involvement, and government's role in the third sector, but also provides blueprint for what a democratic society experiences when it wants to encourage the growth of a voluntary sector. This book should be read by those who are involved as professionals, volunteers, contributors and politicians both in the United States and foreign countries.
— Stephen G. Donshik
Nonprofit Literature Blog
Those of you wishing to get a sweeping overview of the history of the nonprofit sector and philanthropy in the United States will be well rewarded by reading Philanthropy in America: A History by Oliver Zunz.
— Rob Bruno
Wilson Quarterly
There is no shortage of causes clamoring for our attention—and our dollars. Philanthropic drives and organizations are woven into the fabric of American life. In Philanthropy in America, Olivier Zunz, a historian at the University of Virginia, has written a lucid and engaging story of how this came to be.
— Suzanne Garment and Leslie Lenkowsky
Orgtheory.net
You would be hard pressed to find another book that so deftly conveys the ups and downs of the non-profit world. . . . Overall, a solid book that will lead to more insight into the evolution of the non-profit sector.
— Fabio Rojas
Choice
Zunz offers an excellent history of how US philanthropy and government have collaborated to serve the US community. . . . Paraphrasing de Tocqueville, Zunz argues that turning self-interest into a benefit for all was a major development for civilization because, as an impulse, self-interest was so much more available than virtue. Insightful.
EH.Net
The story that Zunz chooses to tell, though not comprehensive, is fascinating; and he tells it well. . . . Overall, this is a book I would highly recommend.
— Donald E. Frey
Conversations on Philanthropy
Philanthropy in America, is a major contribution to philanthropic studies—thoroughly researched and documented, clearly narrated and argued, and illuminating a main theme in the history of twentieth-century American philanthropy: its development in civil society. Within the limits Professor Zunz has chosen, he has rendered a great service to the entire professional philanthropic community, both academic and practical, for which we should all be grateful.
— George McCully
Philanthropy UK
There are three kinds of book reviews that are tricky to write. The first is when the book is not very good. . . . The second is slightly harder to write, when the book is simply unexceptional. . . . But the hardest of all reviews to write, is when the book is so good that one is tempted simply to emit a long sigh of satisfaction and to repeatedly urge people to buy and read it at their first opportunity. This review is of that last kind, so forgive me if I struggle to do more than string superlatives together and seem to be on a percentage from the publishers (which I am assuredly not!). . . . [A] much-needed in-depth history of philanthropy.
— Dr Beth Breeze
Public Administration Review
I may now add to the syllabus Olivier Zunz's well written and wide-ranging new history, Philanthropy in America. . . . I have been practicing, studying, and teaching about philanthropy for more than 15 years, and I learned a lot from Zunz.
— Gara LaMarche
The Nation - Pablo Eisenberg
In a sweeping, insightful history, Olivier Zunz has traced the evolution of American philanthropy over the past 150 years and its contribution to democracy and civil society. What is particularly satisfying is his focus—somewhat rare among books about American philanthropy—on the extent to which foundations and other grantmaking programs have been involved in shaping national affairs and public policy. This involvement, Zunz rightfully claims, has been an important force not only in strengthening American democracy but in establishing philanthropic institutions as integral parts of society. . . . A splendid book about philanthropy in America.
Philanthropy 2173 - Lucy Bernholz
Chapters on the relationship between the institution of income taxes, the price of war, and the creation of 'mass philanthropy' will make any reader stop and ask deeper questions about the contemporary relationship between those same structures. It's a great overview and should be read by everyone currently active in nonprofits or foundations who has ever asked, 'Wait, why do we do it this way?'
Philanthropy Daily - Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill
Will be of interest to all those who wish to understand better the development of a distinctive style of American philanthropy since the Civil War. . . . Important.
Chronicle of Philanthropy - Michael Edwards
In Philanthropy in America, a beautifully written and constantly engaging new book, the historian Olivier Zunz takes the reader on a journey from the mid-19th century origins of organized giving to the present day.
eHistory - Steven Conn
A quiz to start with: What do Americans fund every year at levels comparable to annual budget of the Pentagon? Answer: the non-profit sector. Olivier Zunz drops that small, astonishing fact at the beginning of his splendid history of philanthropy and it serves as a double reminder: first, philanthropy in the United States has grown to be an enormous enterprise; and second, we don't have a comprehensive sense of its history . . . until now. Philanthropy in America stands as the best introduction to the topic and I am quite sure that it will be the starting point for other scholars who want to investigate some of the many issues raised by this book.
Financial Times - John Gapper
One of the lessons of Olivier Zunz's meticulous new history, however, is that innovation in philanthropy is not new. There has been constant evolution in the ways that US citizens donate to good causes, in how private charity interacts with government policy, and in the degree to which it is dominated by the wealthy.J
Philanthropy Roundtable - John Steele Gordon
[A] solid history of the foundation-building movement that began in the late-19th century and continues to this day. And much of that history is fascinating. Zunz recounts a number of largely forgotten historical episodes. He describes the rise of associated philanthropic groups (like the United Way or the March of Dimes), the anti-communist efforts of American foundations early in the Cold War, and even the critical support provided by J. Howard Pew to an up-and-coming Billy Graham.
Advocate - Andrew Burstein
His new and remarkable book tells the story of the last 100-plus years of organized philanthropy, from the days of Andrew Carnegie to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Turning the pages, one quickly sees that the impulse to spend money well—a quintessentially American preoccupation—is, nevertheless, not as tame as one imagines.
eJewish Philanthropy - Stephen G. Donshik
Zunz's book not only documents the historical development of philanthropy, philanthropists' involvement, and government's role in the third sector, but also provides blueprint for what a democratic society experiences when it wants to encourage the growth of a voluntary sector. This book should be read by those who are involved as professionals, volunteers, contributors and politicians both in the United States and foreign countries.
Nonprofit Literature Blog - Rob Bruno
Those of you wishing to get a sweeping overview of the history of the nonprofit sector and philanthropy in the United States will be well rewarded by reading Philanthropy in America: A History by Oliver Zunz.
Wilson Quarterly - Suzanne Garment and Leslie Lenkowsky
There is no shortage of causes clamoring for our attention—and our dollars. Philanthropic drives and organizations are woven into the fabric of American life. In Philanthropy in America, Olivier Zunz, a historian at the University of Virginia, has written a lucid and engaging story of how this came to be.
Orgtheory.net - Fabio Rojas
You would be hard pressed to find another book that so deftly conveys the ups and downs of the non-profit world. . . . Overall, a solid book that will lead to more insight into the evolution of the non-profit sector.
EH.Net - Donald E. Frey
The story that Zunz chooses to tell, though not comprehensive, is fascinating; and he tells it well. . . . Overall, this is a book I would highly recommend.
Conversations on Philanthropy - George McCully
Philanthropy in America, is a major contribution to philanthropic studies—thoroughly researched and documented, clearly narrated and argued, and illuminating a main theme in the history of twentieth-century American philanthropy: its development in civil society. Within the limits Professor Zunz has chosen, he has rendered a great service to the entire professional philanthropic community, both academic and practical, for which we should all be grateful.
Doctor; Philanthropy UK - Beth Breeze
There are three kinds of book reviews that are tricky to write. The first is when the book is not very good. . . . The second is slightly harder to write, when the book is simply unexceptional. . . . But the hardest of all reviews to write, is when the book is so good that one is tempted simply to emit a long sigh of satisfaction and to repeatedly urge people to buy and read it at their first opportunity. This review is of that last kind, so forgive me if I struggle to do more than string superlatives together and seem to be on a percentage from the publishers (which I am assuredly not!). . . . [A] much-needed in-depth history of philanthropy.
Public Administration Review - Gara LaMarche
I may now add to the syllabus Olivier Zunz's well written and wide-ranging new history, Philanthropy in America. . . . I have been practicing, studying, and teaching about philanthropy for more than 15 years, and I learned a lot from Zunz.
Foreign Affairs
[T]his is an excellent resource for those interested in philanthropy and its place in American life.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History - Thomas Adam
In this inspiring, captivating, and thought-provoking book, Zunz presents a comprehensive history of twentieth-century philanthropy in the United States.
National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NC n Dobson

Zunz succeeds especially well in tracing the legal and regulatory evolution of philanthropy and also in showing that many of the questions we in the sector debate today have in fact been around for a long time, albeit it in shifting guises. . . . This book is a must-read for any practitioner or student of philanthropy; and I recommend it as well to serious students of general U.S. history.
Do More Mission! d J. Sukol

The greatest value that Philanthropy in America brings to today's social sector--perspective . . . that's something we get from history, from experience, from research. . . . From each other.
Financial Times - ohn Gapper

One of the lessons of Olivier Zunz's meticulous new history, however, is that innovation in philanthropy is not new. There has been constant evolution in the ways that US citizens donate to good causes, in how private charity interacts with government policy, and in the degree to which it is dominated by the wealthy.J
Philanthropy UK - Dr Beth Breeze
There are three kinds of book reviews that are tricky to write. The first is when the book is not very good. . . . The second is slightly harder to write, when the book is simply unexceptional. . . . But the hardest of all reviews to write, is when the book is so good that one is tempted simply to emit a long sigh of satisfaction and to repeatedly urge people to buy and read it at their first opportunity. This review is of that last kind, so forgive me if I struggle to do more than string superlatives together and seem to be on a percentage from the publishers (which I am assuredly not!). . . . [A] much-needed in-depth history of philanthropy.
Journal of Markets and Morality - Jonathan Newell
[T]hose wanting to know how modern philanthropy has shaped the lives of American citizens will want to start with Zunz's work before pursuing more detailed study of particular movements and causes.
From the Publisher
"There are three kinds of book reviews that are tricky to write. The first is when the book is not very good. . . . The second is slightly harder to write, when the book is simply unexceptional. . . . But the hardest of all reviews to write, is when the book is so good that one is tempted simply to emit a long sigh of satisfaction and to repeatedly urge people to buy and read it at their first opportunity. This review is of that last kind, so forgive me if I struggle to do more than string superlatives together and seem to be on a percentage from the publishers (which I am assuredly not!). . . . [A] much-needed in-depth history of philanthropy."—Dr Beth Breeze, Philanthropy UK

"Philanthropy in America, is a major contribution to philanthropic studies—thoroughly researched and documented, clearly narrated and argued, and illuminating a main theme in the history of twentieth-century American philanthropy: its development in civil society. Within the limits Professor Zunz has chosen, he has rendered a great service to the entire professional philanthropic community, both academic and practical, for which we should all be grateful."—George McCully, Conversations on Philanthropy

"I may now add to the syllabus Olivier Zunz's well written and wide-ranging new history, Philanthropy in America. . . . I have been practicing, studying, and teaching about philanthropy for more than 15 years, and I learned a lot from Zunz."—Gara LaMarche, Public Administration Review

Kirkus Reviews
A readable account of how philanthropy caught on in the United States more pervasively than any other nation. Zunz (History/Univ. of Virginia; The Changing Face of Inequality: Urbanization, Industrial Development, and Immigrants in Detroit, 1880–1920, 2000, etc.) mixes case studies, mini-biography and academic theory to demonstrate that both the superwealthy and common folks have invested in giving to the needy as part of an effort to make America a better place. Wealthy industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller Sr. might have started a trend that has found its way into the lives of Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, but the author relates how the growth of charitable giving across the 50 states has transcended economic standing. Red Cross and United Way drives are just a couple of thousands of examples. Such giving seems to have become imbued across American society soon after independence from England. Visitors from other nations noticed it and remarked upon it during the early 19th century, and state laws, federal statutes, court decisions and favorable tax rulings built the generosity into the economic and political fabrics of American governance. Even segregationists did not object to philanthropists hoping to upgrade the quality of classroom education specifically and the quality of life generally among former slaves and their descendants. When devout philanthropists decided to affect public policy by working through religious organizations, American philanthropy policy expanded to allow complicated arrangements within a society that supposedly kept church and state separate. Zunz explains why numerous donors and the tax-exempt groups they form bypass helping fellow Americans in favor of helping citizens of other parts of the world. Part of the book's fascination is how the author works through the conundrum of impure motives emanating from generous givers. A sterling example of how an academic author can combine high-level theory with interesting, important real-world examples.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400850242
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2014
  • Series: Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: New Preface
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 513,827
  • File size: 8 MB

Meet the Author

Olivier Zunz is the Commonwealth Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of "Why the American Century?", "Making America Corporate", and "The Changing Face of Inequality".
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface to the Paperback Edition ix
Introduction 1
Chapter 1: "For the Improvement of Mankind" 8
Chapter 2: The Coming of Mass Philanthropy 44
Chapter 3: The Regulatory Compromise 76
Chapter 4: The Private Funding of Affairs of State 104
Chapter 5: From Humanitarianism to Cold War 137
Chapter 6: Philanthropy at Midcentury: "Timid Billions"? 169
Chapter 7: Investing in Civil Rights 201
Chapter 8: In Search of a Nonprofit Sector 232
Chapter 9: American Philanthropy and the World’s Communities 264
Conclusion 294
Notes 301
Index 351

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