Philanthropy and the Fourth of July

This post was originally published on July 4, 2011. Since that time the DonorDreams blog community has more than doubled. So, I thought it would be appropriate to reach back into the archives. Please take a moment on this day of celebration to reflect back on the past and consider how it influences what we do today.

constitutionHappy Fourth of July everyone!

As with most Americans today, I find myself reflecting back on our country’s history. While doing so, I became curious about how the history of philanthropy is woven into America’s story. After a little bit of googling and thinking, it is very obvious that one of very cornerstones on which we’ve built our country is philanthropy and charity. Consider the following facts:

  • In 1628, the Massachusetts Bay Company established the first ever American “board” to manage colonial business.
  • In 1630, John Winthrop preaches to Puritans bound for America that it is the obligation of the rich to care for the poor.
  • In 1638, John Harvard’s planned gift establishes a major American educational institution.
  • Throughout the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin is involved in numerous philanthropic projects including creation of the first circulation library in Philadelphia. He arguably plants the seeds of philanthropy throughout the founding of our country.

The list goes on an on. Click here to see a very interesting chronology of philanthropy in America by our friends at the Arizona Grantmakers Forum.

declaration of independenceThere is also a great white paper published on the website learningtogive.org that argues that the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution are underpinned by philanthropic principles.

First, consider that “philanthropy includes voluntary and active efforts to promote human welfare and well-being.” Look no further than the Constitution’s preamble that charges our new country with many things including providing for the “general welfare”.

Click the aforementioned link to read so much more about how philanthropy is woven throughout the American tapestry.

I encourage you to take a moment this Fourth of July to reflect upon philanthropy’s roots in our American democracy and pay tribute to how it has made us the country we are today.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Here is to your health!

 Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
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