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About Philanthropy

In the United States, the philanthropic tradition of contributing to the common good is as old as the country itself. The philanthropic sector is tremendously diverse, and comprises individual donors as well as charitable groups and grantmaking foundations; over the last 150 years, it has developed into a more professional sector that seeks to systematically address social and other concerns.

Along the way, philanthropy has been essential in the creation of the public library system, the yellow fever vaccine, rocket science, and many other innovations we now take for granted. In this section, learn more about the history, contributions, terminology and structure of philanthropy in the United States, with a focus on New York City.

In This Area

  • History of Philanthropy
    A brief history of U.S. and New York philanthropy, along with key facts about philanthropy in New York.
  • Key Contributions to Society
    Well-known innovations that can be traced to foundation funding over the past 100 years.
    In 2009, Philanthropy New York commemorated our 30th anniversary by celebrating the remarkable reach of our region's grantmaking sector with 30 Grants in 30 Days. These stories demonstrate what philanthropy means and the impact it has had over the past three decades.
  • FAQs About Philanthropy
    Frequently asked questions about the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.
  • Glossary of Philanthropic Terms
    Common terminology found in the philanthropic world.