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Traditions of Philanthropy: Giving as Civic Engagement


American philanthropy has continued to evolve since our nation’s founding, with Giving as Relief, Improvement, and Social Reform being the most prevalent and sustained traditions of donating. The 21st century has seen the rise of Giving as Civic Engagement, or to build community. Giving from the principle of participation includes supporting leadership programs, community development corporations, or giving circles.

Pros to this kind of giving include its emphasis on collaboration and trust and its ability to empower organizations and grassroots communities. Challenges, though, stem from its reliance on discourse and networking: does talk always lead to measurable action?

While giving has changed over two and a half centuries, American philanthropy consistently is characterized by our desire to connect with other people. Taking time to think about how you're motivated to give can make you a more intentional donor. It can help you better connect your dollars to your values. Click here to learn more about the Four Traditions of American Giving.

Based on "Towards a Fourth Philanthropic Response: American Philanthropy and its Public" by Susan Wisely and Elizabeth Lynn