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Social Science Philanthropy & Charity

Community Chest

A Case Study in Philanthropy

by (author) John R. Seeley, B.H. Junker, R.W. Jones Jr., N.C. Jenkins, M.T. Haugh & I. Miller

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2019
Philanthropy & Charity, Social Work, Social Services & Welfare
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    Publish Date
    Apr 2019
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Voluntary contributions by private citizens and corporations in amounts ranging from a few coins to millions of dollars are a major factor in the maintenance of the North American way of life. It is difficult to image the changes that would come about of this source of support for the work of religious bodies, health and welfare agencies, and educational and research institutions were to be materially reduced.
Much has been written about the projects to which philanthropy as such has received comparatively little attention, largely because of the uncritical spirit with which good works are regarded in our society. This report is the first to examine critically mass fund-raising and giving. In design, scope, and detail, it is without precedent.
The study has its focus in Indianapolis, Indiana. For a long time, the Indianapolis Community chest has been failing to “meet its goal.” Community Surveys set out to report on the problems the Chest was facing, but in the process it not only examined the local problems, it attempted to make an addition to knowledge of philanthropic practice which would be of general application in the social sciences. The report which the authors present delves into every aspect of voluntary giving in an average North American city. The scope is especially broad, inasmuch as the authors were forced to reach out for relevant material which in practically any other field would have been available in the reports of previous studies. Answers had to be found in such questions as: How does one estimate the need for philanthropic dollars in a given community? What may one reasonably expect in contributions from business and industrial firms, from the wealthier citizens, from members of the various professions, from executive and other salaried works or hourly wage-earners? What effect does federated campaign have on the fund-raising success of agencies which conduct independent campaigns? What problems are bound to arise when professional fund-raisers and volunteers work together? How can we best guard the interest of both the ultimate recipients of assistance and the general public, including the donors? In shirt, what are the elements crucial to success or failure in financing the voluntary agencies of a community, not merely in terms of dollars but with full regard for the needs and potentialities of all the citizenry and the community as a whole?
Community Surveys discovered, not definitive answers to these problems, but solutions geared to a radically new picture of subjective values and goals, and alternative costs and gains. Welfare workers, sociologists, and everyone involved in community work will find in this book an extraordinary amount of material, both factual and interpretative, to suggest new approaches to the perplexing problems of community fund-raising. The study it reports demonstrates the urgent need for much more research on the intricate problems of philanthropy problems which must be resolved in the transition from blindly uncritical giving to rational collections and expenditure of voluntary contributions for the benefit of the whole community.

About the authors

JOHN R. SEELEY was born in London, England, in 1913, and received his early education in England and Germany. Experience in a variety of occupations after his arrival in Canada in 1929 led him to an interest in psychological and sociological problems, and he took an A.B. in Sociology at the University of Chicago in 1942. He has been engaged in a number of observations of various social situations, and at present is executive director of Community Surveys, Indianapolis, a non-profit research organization studying the social services of a middle-size American city.

John R. Seeley's profile page

B.H. Junker is also the Editor of Field Work: An Introduction to the Social Sciences.

B.H. Junker's profile page

R.W. Jones Jr. is an Editor of Community Chest.

R.W. Jones Jr.'s profile page

N.C. Jenkins is an Editor of Community Chest.

N.C. Jenkins' profile page

M.T. Haugh's profile page

I. Miller is an Editor of Community Chest.

I. Miller's profile page

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