Reading, writing, ‘rithmetic… and philanthropy?
Granted, philanthropy is not the first topic that comes to mind when thinking about standard offerings at liberal arts colleges. But increasingly, students studying humanities, social or hard sciences, or business can learn about philanthropy, and it’s easy to see why. Philanthropy represents annually an approximately 300 billion dollar sector of the American economy. Americans appear uniquely to value civil society responses to social problems, contributing generously through philanthropic means of their time, talent, and especially, treasure. As observers since de Tocqueville have discovered, when Americans identify a concern their instinct seems to be to form a little group, raise some money, and make things better. In today’s lingo it’s sometimes called “social entrepreneurship.” But the term philanthropy, the Greek for “love of humanity,” continues best to capture the pro-social, virtuous thrust of the practice of giving and giving well.
And, like any virtue, philanthropy can be learned. In his recent book, Philanthropy and Fundraising in American Higher Education, University of Maryland professor Noah D. Drezner summarizes some of the research on how seeing one’s parents give can influence later giving and altruistic behaviors in children. For example: