If you have the urge to create a better world by donating your money, time, skills, and experience or talent, you have the traits of becoming a philanthropist. The term philanthropy has originated from the time the Greek playwright Aeschylus coined it for the first time in the 5th century BCE. To become a philanthropist, you need to have the willingness to donate wholeheartedly and anybody irrespective of their status, whether an entrepreneur or not can become a philanthropist, says Jonah Engler. The money you donate as a charity must have some worthy cause to serve so that it meets the goal of the betterment of people of the society or the country or the world. Simply said, the charitable donation should underpin your altruistic desire to improve human welfare.
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Timeline of Philanthropy in The United States as Viewed by Jonah Engler
The founding of Harvard University is the first instance of philanthropy in the United States. John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay Colony made the first move in 1630 by preaching to Puritan settlers that the rich had an obligation of looking after the poor and the poor must strive to improve their situation. In 1633, Sir Simond D’ewas received a letter from John Eliot requesting him for money to establish a college in Massachusetts. In 1638, John Harvard bequeathed half of his estate to lay the foundations for Harvard University.
Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic act has become exemplary due to the scale of his giving. His wealth helped to build more than 2800 libraries across the world. He also endowed a charitable trust and several universities that are still functional after 100 years of Carnegie’s demise in 1919. Carnegie sets the example that a man who dies rich dies in disgrace.
Along with his wife Melinda Gates, Bill Gates founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support global development and healthcare programs that are now pursuing aggressive programs related to the discovery of a vaccine for COVID-19.
Ford Foundation, established by the sone of the legendary car maker Henry Ford is another philanthropic foundation with the focus on improving economic opportunity, strengthening democracy, and advancing education.
Americans Are Givers
Americans are generous givers and lose no opportunity of practicing philanthropy in their own ways. This is evident from the data of 2018, which shows that American individuals and organizations donated $427.71 billion in charities to set a record. There has been an increase of 4.2% over the figure of the previous year. Individuals were the bigger donors and donated 68% of the sum, while foundations donated 18%, corporations donated 5% and 9% bequest.
Religious organizations received 32% of the charitable donations, followed by educational groups that received 16%, and 12% went to the human services groups. Next in line were grant-making foundations that received 11%, and 9% went to health organizations.
The extent of giving by Americans is more understandable when you know that in 2018 charitable donations accounted for 2.1% o GDP or gross domestic production.
American taxpayers can avail generous tax deductions for the year in which they make the donations.