Gospels of giving

“This forum takes two facts as starting points. First: we live in an age of giving. In the United States, charitable giving grows almost every year. In the twenty years between 1998 and 2018, total giving to US charitable institutions and causes rose from $265.5 billion to approximately $427.71 billion. Donations by individuals accounted for approximately 68 percent of total giving in 2018. Yet a second fact qualifies the first: our era of giving is also an era of extraordinary wealth and income inequality. Although a majority of American households continue to give to charitable causes, the proportion of households that give has been falling. Around the world, total giving increasingly has comprised charitable and philanthropic contributions made by wealthy individuals and corporations.

With these two facts in mind, contributors to this forum consider why, when, and where certain understandings of charity and philanthropy have proven persuasive and powerful. In our current ‘gilded age’ and in previous eras of growing inequality, why have charitable donations and philanthropic initiatives become prominent methods of effecting individual or social transformation? And how have religious and secular ‘gospels’ animated particular visions of transformation? By exploring such varied topics as Malaysian banking workshops, donations to prominent American universities, and social entrepreneurship projects, contributors respond to these questions.”

Continue reading co-curator, with editor Mona Oraby, Daniel Vaca’s introduction to this forum here.

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