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Philanthropy quotes

January 25, 2017

Life’s persistent and most urgent question is “What are you doing for others?”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Charity begins at home but should not end there.

— Francis Bacon

When wealth is centralized, the people are dispersed. When wealth is distributed, the people are brought together.

— Confucius

The most useful and influential people in America are those who take the deepest interest in institutions that exist for the purpose of making the world better.

— Booker T. Washington

I was fortunate to get a scholarship when I went to Lehigh University and Princeton…. Somebody was kind enough to spend their money to educate people that they would never get to know. That’s what I think philanthropy is about.

— Lee Iacocca

The raising of extraordinarily large sums of money, given voluntarily and freely by millions of our fellow Americans, is a unique American tradition… Philanthropy, charity, giving voluntarily and freely… call it what you like, but it is truly a jewel of an American tradition.

— John Kennedy

The proper aim of giving is to put the recipients in a state where they no longer need our gifts.

—C. S. Lewis

Donors represent a private version of the legislative process—a deliberative process that selects goals, sets values, and allocates resources…. an alternative vehicle for getting things done.

—Paul Ylvisaker

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.

—John Wesley

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.

—Charles Dickens

Different philanthropists have different views about what makes society better off. One of the things that I think is wonderful about the non-accountability of philanthropy is that it allows for multiple versions of what makes society better off. The U.S. is unique in supporting those multiple versions of the good.

—Paul Brest

In America, communities existed before governments. There were many groups of people with a common sense of purpose and a feeling of duty to one another before there were political institutions.

—Daniel Boorstin

We are the most individualistic country on the face of the earth…and yet this individualistic society is still one of the most communitarian and undoubtedly the most philanthropic on the face of the earth. How can the most individualistic of societies also be the most philanthropic? Because of another great American tradition: that every individual is worthy, and no one is trapped by their circumstance.

—Condoleezza Rice

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

—Theodore Roosevelt

Community is a consequence. It results when people come together to accomplish things that are important to them and succeed. People who are uninvolved cannot feel this connection.

—Richard Cornuelle

To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power nor an easy matter.


If you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing—by far—is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children.

—Michael Bloomberg

Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.

—Barbara Bush

At the head of any new undertaking where in France you would find the government, or in England some great lord, in the United States you are sure to find an association.

—Alexis de Tocqueville

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