History Of Philanthropy Highlighted In New Website

The past 500 years of global philanthropy has been chronicled in a free, permanent digital exhibit.

The History of Modern Philanthropy, accessible at HistoryofGiving.org, divides five centuries of giving into five time periods: 1500 to 1750, “New Meaning in a Changing World;” 1750 to 1890, “Upheaval & Reform;” 1890 to 1930, “Lasting Change;” 1930 to 1980, “Redefining Philanthropy;” and 1980 to the present, “Global Outlook of Giving.”

The exhibit has been curated by the National Philanthropic Trust and took a team of historians more than 1,300 hours of research to complete. The project has been in the works since 2011.

“Despite the voluminous content online, a consolidated source that told the story of modern philanthropy didn’t exist,” said Eileen Heisman, CEO of the Jenkintown, Pa.-headquartered trust. “This lack of information presented an opportunity to create a well-researched resource that can grow over time. As our site tells the history of giving, we hope it also inspires new acts of charity and new philanthropists.”

Philanthropy’s past is told through 200 entries bolstered by 95 historical images, documents and video and audio clips. Features include a document from 1638 memorializing the earliest known fundraising effort for Harvard University, audio of a 1918 song dedicated to Red Cross nurses entitled “The One Red Rose the Solider Knows” and a photograph from 1960 illustrating philanthropy-funded voter-registration initiatives for African Americans.

History Associates and Suka Creative assisted in curating the exhibit. The History of Modern Philanthropy is open-source and will welcome collaboration for future phases, according to the organization.

“Philanthropy means ‘love of mankind,’” Heisman added. “The History of Modern Philanthropy is an interactive resource about incredible acts of charity — in all forms — that are representative of mankind’s goodwill. These events shaped philanthropy as we know it.”