Largely overlooked when it comes to nonprofit organizations and their influence in society are the practices and influences of wealthy donors. Throughout history, wealthy individuals have been able to find immense amounts of influence through the donation of their wealth to the nonprofit sector. As individuals, we struggle to be critical of a sector that creates such an immense amount of good. However, this article pushes readers to ask: “What are the true motivations of wealthy donors?” Through a critical analysis of the philanthropic practices of Andrew Carnegie, who is often credited with the start of modern-day big philanthropic giving, this research indicates that the motives of wealthy individuals are not altruistic, and in fact, their donation of funds and the influence it creates have negative consequences on the beneficiaries of nonprofit organizations. A look at modern-day philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos indicates that the practices, influences, and negative aspects of Carnegie’s philanthropic giving have transcended time, working their way into modern-day giving practices. Using analyses into the motives of wealthy individuals from Carnegie to Gates, my research helps to uncover the fact that the practice of big philanthropy is far from altruistic, and I encourage readers to look past the surface level good that philanthropic donors create in an effort to create a more transparent nonprofit sector.
Dr. Michael Weber
First Advisor Department
Dr. Abhishek Bhati
Second Advisor Department
Horn, Alyissa, "Why the Philanthropic Donations of Wealthy Individuals are Not as Great as We May Think" (2021). Honors Projects. 593.