In a new article on The Huffington Post, NHSA president and CEO Irv Katz ponders the history and future of charity, community support, and lasting change. Read below for a sneak peek.
We like to think that charity is a uniquely — or at least, an especially — American tradition. The French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, gave this notion credibility in the early 19th century when he referred to American’s propensity to form voluntary associations of all kinds, including charitable. This took de Tocqueville by surprise because voluntary action by groups of citizens was not so much a part of the world he knew, especially Europe.
Consider the heyday of social movements a century ago, when many of the “charities” we know well today were founded: children’s aid societies, settlement houses, workmen’s educational groups and burial societies, as well as the United Ways, Boys and Girls Clubs, Urban Leagues, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that are still with us today.
But is the American practice of “charity” what it needs to be, what it could be?