Giving to individuals

George Washington on the $1 note.

What causes are you passionate about? See how your giving matches up with famous philanthropists and explore your philanthropic profile. Try Now

Giving to individuals is one category that is often overlooked when studying philanthropic trends. 

For example, while he is remembered for his political success, George Washington was considered one of the wealthiest men of his time. His giving was based on personal relationships. Once, he offered to pay college tuition for the son of a friend. Other philanthropists, like Henry Ford also preferred individual rather than institutional giving.  

The Philanthropy Roundtable sums up Ford’s philosophy on philanthropy as such:

"He preferred to give money to individual people, face to face and with a firm handshake; barring that, he was willing to fund a cause of his own creation." 

Donations to friends and family is a form of giving that can’t be calculated, since it usually happens in private circles and off the books.

How do you give?

As part of our special series on philanthropy and charitable giving in the United States we’re taking a look at a few things: Where did our strong history of philanthropy come from? What are the economic ramifications of how Americans give? 

As part of the reporting we’re looking back at the history of some of the biggest philanthropists in U.S. history. John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett.

In gauging how important those folks are we would also like to know how the average person gives.

 What inspires you to give money to your local charity? Do you see philanthropy as time spent on a cause or money spent supporting it? We want to know!

 We'll use your answers to support future reporting on how people give.

Click here to get started!

About the author

John Ketchum is an assistant producer for Marketplace’s wealth & poverty desk.

What causes are you passionate about? See how your giving matches up with famous philanthropists and explore your philanthropic profile. Try Now

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