Traditions of Philanthropy: Giving as Social Reform Greater Giving Moment

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Traditions of Philanthropy: Giving as Social Reform


(July 21, 2022) The U.S. has seen major trends in philanthropy since our founding, and a notable one is Giving as Social Reform, or to solve social problems. This kind of giving became more prevalent in the 20th century, and it continues in many powerful forms. Giving from the principle of justice includes supporting policy or legal reform, advocacy, or research. Locally, giving to Just City or Memphis For All are some examples of the type of support.

Pros to this kind of giving include its ability to address root causes of problems and to provide comprehensive impact, if successful. Challenges, though, include the risk of not being able to effect real change and the difficulty of devising comprehensive solutions to systemic problems. 

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