The Carnegie Corporation's second centenary of giving allows for historians to look back at the first century and review the work began in the first "golden age" of philanthropy.
"As a pioneer of modern philanthropy, Andrew Carnegie was among the first millionaires to face criticism not for his stinginess, but for his largesse. Why should society admire a man for giving away wealth that he earned on the broken backs of the working class? Workers “herd together and obey the orders of a steel magnate, and produce hundreds of millions of dollars of wealth for him, and then let him give them libraries,” complained a character in Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel, The Jungle. They ought instead to seize control of the industry and “build their own libraries.” In the intervening century, critics have attacked philanthropists for evading taxes, diverting societal wealth to useless pet projects, and reinforcing unequal power relations in America and across the world.
"Of course the view from within the philanthropic establishment is sunnier. Patricia L. Rosenfield’s 2014 A World of Giving: Carnegie Corporation of New York is an insider’s history of a century of international giving by the Carnegie Corporation (CC) that demonstrates how those charged with distributing Carnegie’s wealth have understood their own successes and failures. A World of Giving is no whitewash; it confronts many of the criticisms lobbed at Carnegie and his trustees, and it convincingly paints the latter as men trying their best to improve society. But because it seeks in history a model for current grant makers, it does not fully grapple with some of the deeper structural challenges posed by corporate philanthropy."--Benajmin Coates, HistPhil