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Traditions of Philanthropy: Giving as Improvement

When we look at our nation’s traditions of philanthropy, an important one is Giving as Improvement, or to maximize human potential. This kind of giving gained traction in the 19th century, and it continues today. Giving from the principle of progress includes supporting education and mentoring, job training, and scholarships… even building homes. Locally, giving to Advance Memphis or Knowledge Quest are some examples of the type of support.

Pros to this kind of giving include its ability to have a lasting effect and encouraging self-responsibility rather than dependency. It has challenges though. It can be done with a “we know better than you” attitude. And, it’s hard to “teach a man to fish” if there is a fence around the pond.

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