American Philanthropy Oliver Zunz Summary

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Oliver Zunz in his book tries to explore in depth the twentieth –century growth of American philanthropy which expands knowledge, champions social movements, defines active citizenship, influences policy making and addresses humanitarian crises. From Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates, from ordinary people who purchased Christmas seals to fight tuberculosis to those who wear pink ribbons to battle breast cancer, he describes the nation’s view of philanthropy as both a quintessential part of being American and another means of achieving major objectives. (Zunz, pg. 3). According to Conn Steven, “Zunz goes on to chart how American philanthropic activity became international, first as a result of World War II, and then because of the ensuing Cold…show more content…
According to George, “Zunz describes how systems rose to mobilize huge numbers of small gifts by ordinary Americans initially for fight against tuberculosis, and later for World War I effort and its recovery then for community improvement and poor relief during great depression. Giving through churches, community chests and community foundations encouraged American families to budget for charitable giving, a kind of thrift which gave philanthropy its democratic imprint in America. “(Zunz, pg. 75) (McCully George). Large elite philanthropic institutions cooperated closely with mass philanthropic movements and exchanged leaders like Rockefeller, Anna Harkness etc. Further, health associations that started the movement and accelerated the professionalization of social work called on fundraising firms to assist them. (Zunz, pg.…show more content…
Zunz here describes that lawmakers and the IRS struggled with the question of what kind of philanthropy should benefit from tax-exempt donations. The federal government took its cue from state governments in defining its own tax-exemption policy. Federal tax policy which played no role in the initial surge of American philanthropy, became major instrument by which the government could define how much to subsidize giving, under what circumstances and for what reason. (Zunz, pg. 87). The Revenue Act of 1924 permitted a small group who contributed over 90% of their income to charity each year to deduct all charitable giving. (Zunz, pg. 88). When Congress amended the law in 1934, it changed as a way of disciplining political opponents. (Zunz, pg. 102). It’s the 1969 Tax Reform that made a lot of changes. For example, it tightened regulations governing foundations and made them more accountable, it reasserted the non-partisanship was essential to secure a tax exemption, and voter registration activities would be permitted only if a grant was made to an organization working in five or more states. (Zunz, pg. 229). According to Rietzler, “Thus, segregationists in Congress who opposed the Ford Foundation’s support for radical Civil Rights groups succeeded in rendering the 1969 tax code more restrictive. Beginning in the Reagan years, limits on lobbying by charitable organizations were successively loosened, not least due to the influence of

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