Historical Origin of Philanthropy

According scholars, “the philanthropic impulse is as old as recorded history”. In many ancient societies, including those of Greece and Rome, the breakup of self-supporting kinship groups caused by urbanization led to the institution of state-sanctioned measures to aid the infirm (not strong), the poor, and the disadvantaged. During the Middle Ages in Europe, an elaborate network of almshouses, hospitals, and orphanages were supported by donations from the rich and by church collections.

One of the earliest and best-known philanthropists was the Scottish-born American industrialist and founder of the iron and steel industry in the United States, Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919), who devoted the latter part of his life to giving away most of the huge fortune he had earned in the steel industry to charity.

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