Philanthropy began in the US very early in the nation’s history. But it was not until the 20th century that charitable giving, as we know it today began to be shaped—and to grow by leaps and bounds. One way to chart the growth of US philanthropy is to follow the trajectory of private foundations: The first private foundation was created in the early 1900s, but by 1950 there were 2,000 of them nationwide—a number that jumped to around 100,796 in 2015. But foundations are only one piece of the philanthropic picture. There are many other ways to give and to organize your giving, ranging from writing an individual check to creating a charitable trust or naming a charity as a beneficiary of your will. Whatever the method, individual US citizens give generously to charity each year—almost $316 billion in contributions in 2012. That money is much needed: There are over a million nonprofit charitable organizations in the US, of all sizes, established for a wide range
of purposes. They support broad goals, such
as education, protecting the environment, and battling diseases such as cancer. But they are also important on a small, community-based scale, for example, helping the homeless or building a   Read more…