Philanthropy at the community level

Supporting community empowerment

Authored by: Michael D. Layton

The Routledge Companion to Philanthropy

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415783255
eBook ISBN: 9781315740324
Adobe ISBN: 9781317579717


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The word philanthropy usually conjures up images of a wealthy individual dedicating some part, sometimes a very significant part, of a great fortune to a noble cause. More often than not, the philanthropic practices of such individuals seem to draw inspiration from a perspective articulated by Andrew Carnegie more than one hundred years ago, of the millionaire as a trustee of the poor, ‘administering it for the community far better than it could or would have done for itself’ (Carnegie, 1901: 18). From this perspective, it is precisely the rich and powerful who are in a position to be philanthropic, tackling social problems more ably than communities by using the same skills and talents that allowed them to amass their fortunes to tackle social problems ‘far better’ than the community itself could. Bishop and Green (2008: 13) go so far as to call today’s philanthrocapitalists ‘Carnegie’s children’, and claim that giving them a copy of Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth could help them along.

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