Understanding Philanthropy: Its Meaning and Mission

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Indiana University Press, Mar 26, 2008 - Social Science - 224 pages
“A fine volume on the moral meaning and function of philanthropy…makes the case that philanthropy is essential to democratic society.”—Choice 
Philanthropy has existed in various forms in all cultures and civilizations throughout history, yet most people know little about it and its distinctive place in our lives. Why does philanthropy exist? Why do people so often turn to philanthropy when we want to make the world a better place? In essence, what is philanthropy?
These fundamental questions are tackled in this engaging and original book. Written by one of the founding figures in the field of philanthropic studies, Robert L. Payton, and his former student sociologist Michael P. Moody, Understanding Philanthropy presents a new way of thinking about the meaning and mission of philanthropy. Weaving together accessible theoretical explanations with fascinating examples of philanthropic action, this book advances key scholarly debates about philanthropy and offers practitioners a way of explaining the rationale for their nonprofit efforts.

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Why This Book?
2 Voluntary Action for the Public Good
Philanthropy as a Response to the Human Problematic
Philanthropy as Moral Action
5 The Social History of the Moral Imagination
6 Philanthropy Democracy and the Future
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About the author (2008)

Robert L. Payton (1927-2011) was president of C.W. Post College and Hofstra University, a State Department official, ambassador to Cameroon, head of the Exxon Education Foundation, and was the first director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. He is author of Philanthropy: Voluntary Action for the Public Good.

Michael P. Moody is Assistant Professor in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California. He is a cultural sociologist whose work focuses on the theory and practice of philanthropy.

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