“In the United States, as soon as several inhabitants have taken an opinion or an idea they wish to promote in society, they seek each other out and unite together,” observed Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835. Today, philanthropy—privately funded efforts to solve social problems, enrich culture, and strengthen society—remains a giant undertaking in America, with more than $360 billion donated annually by individuals, foundations, and businesses. Rates of giving are two to 20 times higher in the U.S. than in other developed nations.
America’s long tradition of philanthropy is also under fire: a growing chorus calls for changing the U.S. tax code to direct philanthropy to government approved causes and to redefine charity as only the direct redistribution of income from rich to poor. Please join Karl Zinsmeister—editor and principal author of the Philanthropy Roundtable’s magisterial new book The Almanac of American Philanthropy—for a discussion on the past, present, and future of charitable giving in the United States.
Karl Zinsmeister is Vice President of publications at the Philanthropy Roundtable. A distinguished journalist and editor, Zinsmeister served as the J.B. Fuqua Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and, during 2006-09, as chief domestic policy adviser to President George W. Bush. He holds a B.A. from Yale University.