By the 1820s, newly rich American businessmen were initiating philanthropic work, especially with respect to private colleges and hospitals. George Peabody (1795–1869) is the acknowledged father of modern philanthropy. A financier based in Baltimore and London, in the 1860s he began to endow libraries and museums in the United States, and also funded housing for poor people in London. His activities became the model for Andrew Carnegie and many others.

Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919) was the most influential leader of philanthropy on a national (rather than local) scale. After selling his steel corporation in the 1890s he devoted himself to establishing philanthropic organizations, and making direct contributions to many educational cultural and research institutions. His final and largest project was the Carnegie Corporation of New York, founded in 1911 with a $25 million endowment, later enlarged to $135 million. In all, Carnegie gave away 90% of his fortune.

Washington Forrest Foundation Kitchen

The Ford Foundation in the 1950s wanted to modernize the legal systems in India and Africa, by promoting the American model. The plan failed, because of India’s unique legal history, traditions, and profession, as well as its economic and political conditions. Ford therefore turned to agricultural reform.

Philanthropy in Australia is influenced by the country’s regulatory and cultural history, and by its geography. Structured giving through foundations is slowly growing, although public data on the philanthropic sector is sparse. the peak membership body for grant-making trusts and foundations.

Recent national research supported by the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership provides comprehensive, up-to-date information from individuals, charitable organisations, philanthropists and businesses in Australia about giving and volunteering behaviours, approaches and trends.

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