BOOK FACT FRIDAY

“After Congress ratified the Sixteenth Amendment instituting the income tax in 1913, the Treasury Department created a single category in the tax code for exempting philanthropies, whether originating in big money, mass appeals, or communities. Tax exemption has not only nurtured philanthropy in society, it has entrenched it. Equally important, it encourages an otherwise very diverse group of institutions that have dispersed and/or solicited private funds for the public good to work together, in essence fostering a nonprofit sector of groups with similar interests and privileges.”

Philanthropy in America: A History
by Olivier Zunz

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.

Zunz looks at the ways in which American philanthropy emerged not as charity work, but as an open and sometimes controversial means to foster independent investigation, problem solving, and the greater good. Andrew Carnegie supported science research and higher education, catapulting these fields to a prominent position on the world stage. In the 1950s, Howard Pew deliberately funded the young Billy Graham to counter liberal philanthropies, prefiguring the culture wars and increased philanthropic support for religious causes. And in the 1960s, the Ford Foundation supported civil rights through education, voter registration drives, and community action programs. Zunz argues that American giving allowed the country to export its ideals abroad after World War II, and he examines the federal tax policies that unified the diverse nonprofit sector.

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.

“Marshaling his unmatched encyclopedic knowledge, Olivier Zunz has produced a masterful and comprehensive account of the power and influence of American philanthropy. His book places the subject into a larger societal and global framework, and will be of great interest to historians and social scientists working on the dynamics and ethos of modern capitalism, as well as to all individuals involved in the world of foundations and NGOs.”—V.R. Berghahn, Columbia University

“Compelling and beautifully written, this narrative about the development of philanthropy from the nineteenth century through the present day bears the hallmark of rigorous scholarship and authoritative research. Showing how the diversity of givers and giving in America has advanced the nation’s social, cultural, intellectual, and economic life, Zunz demonstrates that big money philanthropy and mass giving have left a uniquely democratic imprint on the country and set an example for philanthropic efforts around the world.”—Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corporation of New York

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9513.pdf