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Philanthropy 101: Scientific Philanthropy

p_library.html p_sci.html p_peace.html p_campus.html p_carvrock.html p_legacy.html "Of every thousand dollars spent in so-called charity today," Carnegie wrote in 1889, "it is probable that nine hundred and fifty dollars is unwisely spent." He developed these guidelines for "scientific philanthropy:"

Don't spoil your heirs.
Carnegie believed inherited wealth spoiled the heirs. "I should as soon leave to my son a curse as the almighty dollar," he said.

Give with warm hands.
Carnegie wrote that "Men who leave vast sums [in their wills] may fairly be thought men who would not have left it at all had they been able to take it with them."

Help those willing to help themselves.
"It were better for mankind that the millions of the rich were thrown into the sea than so spent as to encourage the slothful, the drunken, the unworthy," Carnegie wrote.

For Carnegie, himself a self-educated man, libraries seemed the ideal gift. They appealed to his bootstrap sensibility for self-improvement. Carnegie also acknowledged a handful of other acceptable gifts. In 1889, he presented the seven "wisest" fields of philanthropy, listed in this order:

  • Universities
  • Free libraries
  • Hospitals
  • Parks
  • Concert halls
  • Swimming baths
  • Church buildings
Carnegie's list generated more than a few irate letters to the editor from ministers, who were upset to find churches listed behind swimming pools.

Next: The ABC's of World Peace

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