Philanthropy: How America was shaped by the generosity of others

the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.  

As our nation celebrated its 244th birthday, it is appropriate to reflect on the role philanthropy has played in shaping our nation.  As early as 1770, societies were formed to help underprivileged colonists.  These were often created by groups with strong religious beliefs and a view of shared responsibility for the general welfare of others and were often very specific to their area geographically.  The United Way is credited with being the first charity aggregator in 1887, collecting money from multiple points and distributing to charities.  In 1907, the Russell Sage Foundation was created as the first private family foundation.  Not far behind were the Carnegie Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation.  Problems and solutions were very much localized in the early days of our nation.  As we became an industrial power, our charitable infrastructure grew as well.  

As America as grown, so has philanthropy.  Today, philanthropy includes the act of voluntary giving by corporations, individuals or groups to promote the common good.  This grew to a formal process we know as grantmaking by non-profit corporations and foundations.  The American Cancer Society’s roots begin in 1913, quickly followed by the American Heart Association.  World Wars created the need for a different type of philanthropy and our nation’s citizens responded.  The United Nations General Assembly established the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to care for children in the aftermath of war.  Today, philanthropy is driving cutting edge research in healthcare (think Covid-19), supporting education, financing programs for abuse, after school programs, veterans support and so much more.  Our nation is a generous nation.  

The headlines today show there is much work to be done by foundations and nonprofit corporations.  It is easy for charitable giving to become reactionary or lacking in a strategy.  It seems a daunting task but intentional giving, with a clear focus area in mind, and a commitment to multiple years of funding, can have a lasting and life changing impact.  The sense of joy and gratitude received from truly improving lives is like nothing else. A bit of professional guidance can be the difference between looking forward to giving and being reactionary.  This is the difference between joy in giving or feeling the burden or disappointment in giving, in not making more of an impact with the funds allocated.  Charitable giving is also a great tool in bringing along rising generations and educating them on becoming true stewards of wealth.  This is a lesson that lasts for generations, if done properly.  Those before us helped shaped our country through their giving.  How will your giving add to that legacy? 

At Sendero, we help clients develop strategic philanthropic planning that focus on their charitable goals.  Making a positive impact on the causes and organizations you cherish begins with planning.  Let us help you explore strategies to help you effectively support the causes that mean the most to you.

Elizabeth Crawford, CEO