How We Got So Good At Giving Our Money Away

Historian Olivier Zunz On the Rise of Philanthropy in the United States

The United States has produced a system of philanthropy distinguished by the breadth of its ambition and the participation of the masses, University of Virginia historian Olivier Zunz said in a Zócalo Public Square lecture at Goethe-Institut Los Angeles.Zunz, author of the new book Philanthropy in America: A History, said that other countries (and even early America) historically had a variety of philanthropic traditions, but each tradition tended to specify the target and beneficiary of any giving. Such specificity was important legally; heirs could challenge the wills of their loved …