Latest Entries
The Changing Meaning of Community Development in Harlem (And its Consequences)
New Works in the Field / Philanthropy and Historical Research / Philanthropy and Inequality

The Changing Meaning of Community Development in Harlem (And its Consequences)

Editors’ Note: Brian D. Goldstein introduces his recent work, The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle Over Harlem (Harvard, 2017). The January 29, 1977 front page of the New York Amsterdam News offered grim news to any Harlemites hoping to own part of the land they inhabited. “Harlem Commonwealth Council Fails to Sell Shares to Residents,” … Continue reading

The Price of Privacy: What’s Wrong with the New Shadow Giving System
History of Anonymous Giving

The Price of Privacy: What’s Wrong with the New Shadow Giving System

Editors’ Note: David Callahan adds to HistPhil‘s forum on anonymous giving. The world of philanthropy is becoming less transparent, and that’s not a good thing. Recent years have seen the rapid growth of a shadow giving system that funnels billions of dollars in gifts in ways that leave no fingerprints. The disclosure rules that have governed … Continue reading

The Historical Case for Charitable Donor Privacy
History of Anonymous Giving

The Historical Case for Charitable Donor Privacy

Editors’ Note: Sean Parnell continues Histphil‘s forum on anonymous giving, making the affirmative, historical case. Modern discussions of anonymous philanthropic giving tend to focus on supposed malefactors such as the libertarian brothers Charles and David Koch, progressive George Soros, or the general threat that so-called “dark money” poses to our free society.[1] Often lost in these … Continue reading

The Uneasy Convergence of Elite and Mass Fundraising in Higher Ed: The Harvard Endowment Fund drive, 1915-1925
Philanthropy and Education

The Uneasy Convergence of Elite and Mass Fundraising in Higher Ed: The Harvard Endowment Fund drive, 1915-1925

Editors’ Note: HistPhil takes a brief break from the forum on anonymous giving for a post from Bruce Kimball on the path-breaking Harvard Endowment Fund drive. It is adapted from Bruce A. Kimball, “The First Campaign and the Paradoxical Transformation of Fundraising in American Higher Education, 1915-1925.” Teachers College Record 116, no. 7 (2014): 1-44. In September 2013 … Continue reading

Beyond Maimonides’ Ladder: Anonymous Charity in Early Jewish Tradition
History of Anonymous Giving

Beyond Maimonides’ Ladder: Anonymous Charity in Early Jewish Tradition

Editors’ Note: Gregg Gardner adds more deep historical background to HistPhil’s forum on anonymous giving. It is commonly held that Judaism holds anonymous giving as the highest form of charity – a characteristically Jewish form of philanthropy championed by the preeminent philosopher Moses Maimonides (1135–1204 CE). Yet the truth is more complicated: anonymous giving was directed … Continue reading

It’s No Secret: The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Benefits and Drawbacks to Operating Anonymously
History of Anonymous Giving

It’s No Secret: The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Benefits and Drawbacks to Operating Anonymously

Editors’ Note: The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Christopher G. Oechsli continues HistPhil’s forum on anonymous giving. There was a time, and not that long ago, when our strict adherence to operating anonymously would have made it impossible for The Atlantic Philanthropies to participate in a forum like this. In fact, for our first 15 years, we didn’t publicly … Continue reading

Sound Not a Trumpet, Let your Light Shine: the Tension at the Heart of Medieval Attitudes toward Anonymous Giving
History of Anonymous Giving

Sound Not a Trumpet, Let your Light Shine: the Tension at the Heart of Medieval Attitudes toward Anonymous Giving

Editors’ Note: Adam Davis continues HistPhil’s forum on the history of anonymous giving with some deep historical background. During the first millennium and a half of Christian history, there was a fundamental tension between the ideal of anonymous charity on the one hand, which by definition was not done out of vainglory, and on the other … Continue reading

Introducing HistPhil’s Forum on the History of Anonymous Giving
From the Editors / History of Anonymous Giving

Introducing HistPhil’s Forum on the History of Anonymous Giving

Editors’ Note: This post, by HistPhil co-editor Benjamin Soskis, introduces HistPhil‘s forum on the history of anonymous giving, which will be featured on the site over the next few weeks. To get a sense of the ambiguous place that anonymous giving now occupies within contemporary attitudes towards philanthropy, take a look at a striking passage in … Continue reading

Past Transactions: The History of Fee-Charging in the American Nonprofit Human Services Sector
New Works in the Field

Past Transactions: The History of Fee-Charging in the American Nonprofit Human Services Sector

Editors’ Note: Maoz Brown previews his article, “The Moralization of Commercialization: Uncovering the History of Fee-Charging in the U.S. Nonprofit Human Services Sector,” which was recently published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.  Finances are often viewed as vital signs in the nonprofit sector, as in the much-discussed (and much-lamented) case of using administrative expense … Continue reading

“A Disparity in Paper”: Recovering Chinese Charitable Traditions and the Struggle Against Western Philanthropic Imperialism
Philanthropy / Philanthropy and Democracy / Philanthropy and Historical Research

“A Disparity in Paper”: Recovering Chinese Charitable Traditions and the Struggle Against Western Philanthropic Imperialism

Editors’ Note: This post, by Caroline Reeves, is adapted from a paper presented at the “Empires of Charity” conference, held at the University of Warwick in March 2017 and is part of Reeves’ larger project on the history of Chinese charitable giving. The Last Bastion of Cultural Imperialism In 2009, I was invited to celebrate the … Continue reading

Philanthropy and the End of Teacher Autonomy
New Works in the Field / Philanthropy and Education

Philanthropy and the End of Teacher Autonomy

Editors’ Note: Nicholas Tampio, author of the recently published Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy, discusses the role the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation played in the establishment of Common Core. I recently gave a talk at a local bookstore about my new book on the Common Core, a set of … Continue reading

Toward an Appreciation of Generosity’s “Full Range and Flourishing”
Philanthropy

Toward an Appreciation of Generosity’s “Full Range and Flourishing”

Editors’ Note: Paul Schervish writes on the dangers of researchers equating generosity with formal charitable giving. Just peruse studies and media commentary on charitable giving and you will see how often one financial group, region, gender, or race is called more “generous” than another on the basis of how much formal charitable giving that group carries … Continue reading

From Turtle Bay to DC: The Transformation of American Human Rights Activism in the Long 1960s
New Works in the Field

From Turtle Bay to DC: The Transformation of American Human Rights Activism in the Long 1960s

Editors’ Note: Sarah B. Snyder discusses her new book, From Selma to Moscow: How Human Rights Activists Transformed U. S. Foreign Policy. Americans and human rights have had a long, interconnected history.  After all, Thomas Jefferson used the language of “rights” in his 1776 Declaration of Independence.  And, Americans were active in shaping human rights commitments … Continue reading

The Kids Are Alright: The Promise and Reality of Youth Volunteering, 1974-2018
New Works in the Field

The Kids Are Alright: The Promise and Reality of Youth Volunteering, 1974-2018

Editors’ Note: Robert Grimm and Nathan Dietz discuss the findings of the new report from the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute, “Good Intentions, Gap in Action,” on youth civic engagement. Over the past several weeks, the students of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have proved that young people have the civic … Continue reading

A Review of Shomari Wills’s BLACK FORTUNES (2018)
New Works in the Field / Philanthropy and Historical Research

A Review of Shomari Wills’s BLACK FORTUNES (2018)

Editors’ Note: HistPhil co-editor Maribel Morey reviews Shomari Wills’s Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires (New York: Amistad, HarperCollins Publishers, 2018).  Detailing a history of the “first cohort of black millionaires” in the United States, journalist Shomari Wills begins Black Fortunes by correcting the popular myth that … Continue reading

Risk and Reward: A History of Charitable Gift Annuities
New Works in the Field / Philanthropy and Historical Research

Risk and Reward: A History of Charitable Gift Annuities

Editors’ Note: Ronald A. Brown provides a history of charitable gift annuities, based on his new book, A History of Charitable Gift Planning: How Gift Annuities Shaped American Philanthropy (1830-1959). In the ecosystem of American philanthropy, money is not only given, it is actively raised. There are only a few major histories of charitable fundraising, … Continue reading

Democracy, Social Science, and Philanthropy in the Mid-Century United States
New Works in the Field / Philanthropy and Democracy

Democracy, Social Science, and Philanthropy in the Mid-Century United States

Editors’ Note:  Previewing his new book Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018), Daniel Bessner places particular attention on the work’s engagement with philanthropic history.  In the last several decades, the history of the social sciences and philanthropy has experienced something of a renaissance. Books and articles by … Continue reading

Donations for More than Just Diplomas: Conservative Philanthropy and American Higher Education
History of Philanthropy and Conservatism / Philanthropy and Education

Donations for More than Just Diplomas: Conservative Philanthropy and American Higher Education

Editors’ Note: Elizabeth Shermer joins HistPhil‘s forum on the history of conservatism and philanthropy. Private giving has been instrumental in American higher education’s development. Especially before state and federal governments started spending more on college and universities during the Cold War, philanthropy served as a major source of financial support for those institutions. Yet conservative donors, especially … Continue reading

Solidarity: The History of a Powerful Idea and how it can Shape Philanthropic Practice
Current Events and Philanthropy / Philanthropy and Historical Research

Solidarity: The History of a Powerful Idea and how it can Shape Philanthropic Practice

Editors’ Note: Activist Leah Hunt-Hendrix discusses the history of the idea of “solidarity” and how it has shaped her own philanthropic projects, including the Solidaire funders’ network.  The words we use matter.  When we employ terms like “altruism” or “effective” or “venture” we are locating ourselves in specific schools of thought, which include ideas about good and bad, … Continue reading

The Historical Roots of Humanitarian Photography: a 19th-Century Evangelical Newspaper’s Enduring Influence on the Global Aid Industry
New Works in the Field

The Historical Roots of Humanitarian Photography: a 19th-Century Evangelical Newspaper’s Enduring Influence on the Global Aid Industry

Editors’ Note: Heather D. Curtis discusses her new book, Holy Humanitarians: American Evangelicals and Global Aid. On September 2, 2015, the body of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up ashore near the Turkish resort of Bodrum. Originally from Damascus, the boy and his family were refugees from the Syrian civil war seeking to reach the Greek … Continue reading