Over 4,000 years ago, Chinese families provided monetary allowances to widows, orphans and elderly people.
The Hebrews gave one-tenth of their income as a gift to God and to those in need.
Philanthropy is a critical part of a democratic society.
It is different than charity, which focuses on eliminating the suffering caused by social problems, while philanthropy focuses on the elimination of social problems.
References to philanthropy can be found in the Koran, Bible, Torah and in the teachings of many other religions and cultures, including Buddhism, Japanese and Native American cultures, and Hinduism.
"Zakat," or giving, is one of the five pillars of Islam that help people become closer to God (Islam-guide.com).
After the American Revolution, the attitudes and values of Americans in the new United States encouraged philanthropy.
These Americans were not against wealth, but discouraged it from being flaunted or hoarded.
Church-based philanthropy continued to grow, but people also began to practice philanthropy outside of the authority of the church.
This secular perspective in philanthropy led to "..fostering of humane attitudes and the popularization of philanthropy at all levels of society..." (Bremner 1988, 20).