Mr Musk did not respond to an email asking him to discuss his charitable donation.
The notion that rich people have a moral obligation to give is an ancient one. Mr. Soskis, a historian of philanthropy, noted that wealthy citizens in ancient Rome tried to outdo each other to pay for public baths and theatre. The inscriptions on those buildings may count as early donor lists.
The idea that the wealthiest people might need donations to improve their public relations has also been around for a long time, driving home in the Gilded Age. 1882 explosion “Damn the public!” by railway magnate William Henry Vanderbilt Which kept him in the shadow till the end of his days.
Efforts to track charitable donations of the very wealthy in the United States date back to the late 19th century, when the ranks of millionaires exploded. Long ago, newspapers were running front-page lists of who had given the greatest gifts. The original pair that attracted public attention were John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, whose sentiments of promoting philanthropy were vehemently opposed.
Cartoons from the time featured Mr Carnegie, often wearing a cloak in reference to his Scottish origins, showering coins from huge bags of money. “He who thus dies rich, dies in humiliation,” wrote Mr. Carnegie in his treatise on Giving the “Gospel of Wealth.” Mr. Rockefeller preferred to keep his giving more private and had to be convinced to announce his gifts.
For those who think trolling started on Twitter, philanthropy was never as humble as we imagine it to be today. One of the founders of Eastman Kodak, George Eastman, called people who didn’t give their money during their lifetimes “pie-faced mutts.” Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., and a prominent philanthropist in his time, insisted that the accumulation of wealth had nothing to do with smart, saying, “Some very rich men who made their own fortunes He is one of the most stupid people I have ever met in my life.
But the idea that giving helps with reputation is only partially correct. Sometimes charities are celebrated but just as often the high profile means their motives and choices are set aside. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are each worth more than $120 billion according to Forbes, but none of them receive the level of scrutiny that Mr. Gates does, for example. for.
“If you keep your head above the philanthropic parapet and say, ‘I’m interested in the environment,’ or whatever the reason is the area, people might start questioning it,” he said. Beth Breeze, author of a recent book “in defense of charityMs Breeze has pushed back against a recent tendency to criticize philanthropists who, she says, are routinely described as “tax dodgers, egotistical, troublemakers” – criticizing they Can earn, but not comment that she considers useful for the greater good.