Philanthropy 2


Leanna Caldwell

Kenny Dinh

Michelle Irigoyen


Tray Kennedy


          Philanthropy, a term known globally as the act of donating goods, money, and services to support charitable causes worldwide over extended periods of time. It has been an aspect of social practice and human interaction throughout the ages. Philanthropy encompasses any altruistic activity intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. It has become a major source of income for educational institutions, humanitarian causes, and for art culture over past centuries. Also philanthropy is not always viewed as a universal good by people worldwide due to unknown ambitions of the donators. Simply put it as the weak sponging off the strong, a view of those who oppose government welfare programs.

 There are plenty of new philanthropists in our present day society. Even though we may be jaded by our many materialistic advances, there are still good people out there. The five most recognized ‘new age’ philanthropists are Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, and Bono. All of these people have one thing in common – to better our society by donating their wealth to the more unfortunate. Because of this, thousands of people are being saved all over the world every single day.

People such as Andrew Carnegie and the Ford family were crucial in starting a major philanthropy movement. Starting off as a poor young boy, Andrew Carnegie was able to strike it rich with his steel company. To improve his business by encouraging competition among his employees by offering them stock in the company. He would also buy out most other businesses in the Steel Industry, making him owner of the wealthiest and most prominent company. Carnegie also held strong belief in the Gospel of Wealth, where those who profit from society owe it something in return. It was because of this belief that ninety percent of his fortune went to the music and arts and continues to support them today. On the other hand, the Ford family, more specifically Edsel Ford, founded the Ford Foundation. This foundation funded programs, helped in reducing poverty, and scientific research. The Ford Foundation focused on strengthening democratic values, arts, cultures, and human rights.

          From what you’ve read, you are probably concluded that all these wealthy people give out of the goodness of their hearts, right?  Maybe, but everyone has an ulterior motive.  What do these people gain from their generous giving?  James Smithson willed his fortune to his nephew, Henry James Dickinson when he died with no children.  If Henry too died with no heirs, than the Smithson fortune would go to the United States government “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men”.  But why would James donate to a country he had never been to?  The answer: he was bitter.  James was the illegitimate son of the 1st Duke Sir Hugh Smithson.  He was never acknowledged as the Duke’s son, and was angry with the English government, so he gave his money to Washington D.C.  We’ve all heard of the Rockefeller University of Medical Research, funded by the gracious John D. Rockefeller of the Standard Oil Company. Rockefeller donated over $1 billion to charitable funding, but how did he gain this fortune? Rockefeller created pools to run other companies under and therefore controlled the oil industry.  Rockefeller would intimidate other companies with his records, showing what they were up against, and they would either accept his offer, or he would threaten to run them into bankruptcy.  Rockefeller was infamous for his strategies and hold of the Standard Oil Company, so what did he do?  Became a world-renowned philanthropist dedicated to the research of medicine.  He donated millions of dollars with hopes of gaining positive popularity, though he is known for being just as bad as he is good.  The philanthropists of today mainly consist of the celebrities flashed on the covers of magazines.  Though they, too, have an underlying motive.  The Hollywood world is competitive, and one must be the best in all areas to be on the top.  Celebrities donate to humanitarian charities in third world countries not only out of the goodness of their hearts, but to further their career, gain more fans and rise on the popularity ladder.  Donating money is a symbol of wealth, signifying that one has too much money to spend just on their designer clothes, and therefore must also benefit others with their wealth.  However, these people are not so humble as to refuse the offer of their names plastered on anything their earnings have touched.


Related Sources: - Valuable information on Andrew Carnegie and his early life, Steel Industry, and beliefs as a philanthropist. Includes links to more detail on his Gospel of Wealth. - Supplies in depth the life John Rockefeller and history and control of the Standard Oil Company. offers information on different chronicles involving philanthropy. provides full range access to ideas and information for the benefit of philanthropy. - Detailed account of James Smithson’s life and accomplishments as the originator of the Smithsonian Institute.