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  Chapter Nine:

  Average Earnings
  Minority Earnings
  Average Incomes
  Personal Consumption
  Philanthropic Donations
  Personal Debt
  Income Distribution



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Philanthropic Donations

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Private philanthropy increased more than fivefold in the last half of the century.
The enormous expansion of government funding for education, health, research, welfare, and the arts did not dampen private funding. 

A surprising trend in private philanthropy, shown in the chart at left, is the predominance of gifts by living donors, which greatly exceeded the combined total of charitable bequests, corporate gifts, and foundation grants. The major increase in private fortunes after 1980 made it possible for individuals to make gifts of unprecedented scale. In the capital campaigns that were conducted almost continuously by major universities, a contribution of $1 million was not unusual. 

Corporate philanthropy was almost unknown before 1950. Indeed, it was often considered an illegitimate misuse of money belonging to stockholders. But during the second half of the century it became almost obligatory for large business enterprises to display a list of good works that were not necessarily restricted to their own employees or the local community. 

In 1950, the combined worth of all U.S. foundations was less than $3 billion; only four had more than $100 million in assets. In 1995, their combined worth totaled $227 billion, and about 300 foundations had assets of more than $100 million each. 

The principal beneficiaries of private donors were churches and other religious organizations. The largest share of corporate gifts and foundation grants went to educational institutions, followed by human service agencies, hospitals and health research, art and culture. Although the bulk of philanthropic contributions in every category went to well-established organizations, some new activities were funded as well.

Chapter 9 chart 5

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series H 398402; SA 1977, table 559; SA 1984, table 665; SA 1991, table 627; and SA 1998, table 641.


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