Thinking About the Why of Giving

Why do individuals give? Where does our sense of personal responsibility come from? In this essay from ‘Faith and Family Philanthropy‘, former university president and foundation trustee Claire Gaudiani examines the tenets of various religions pertaining to philanthropy and the wellsprings of faith and giving in American history. Dr. Gaudiani concludes that families and individuals giving springs from both sacred and civic texts. The sacred texts, found across many religions, call on us to act with justice, love, and generosity because those responses sustain families, communities, and the whole of human society. The civic texts, beginning with concepts of democracy generated in Greece and Rome, are directed at being generous to others rather than focusing on self only.

[1]     In Mort Zuckerman (May/June 1998), Foreign Affairs.