The 21st Century Progressive Era

This Women’s History Month – honoring the innovation of giving

image from Progressive Era of large group of women and men holding signs with worker's rights slogansCONTRIBUTED BY AFPSEWI

At the turn of the 20th Century, American was in the midst of several social, economic, and political reforms. This transformative time, known as the Progressive Era, welcomed innovations in production, communication, entertainment, and health. It also brought to light social divides in economic status, work and living conditions, and gender rights.

During Women’s History Month, we honor the women that played a significant role in the reforms of those times, with a specific focus on women's suffrage, child labor laws, and health and living conditions. We honor their active giving to the community – a practice that also took hold in a new, transformative age of philanthropy.  Philanthropy was in its own innovative reform: in 1889, Andrew Carnegie authored “The Gospel of Wealth,” in which he described the duty placed on the “new” upper-class citizens to meet the growing needs of the community by becoming free-will economic donors to causes and organizations.

In looking back on history, we can note some parallels with current events. We are surrounded by the advancement of innovations, while at the same time overwhelmed by the call for reforms in the areas of social justice, economics, and politics.

Are we in our own 21st Century Progressive Era?

Though the issues may be different, one constant remains the ongoing need for philanthropic support, both in action and funding. 

This makes Women’s History Month a great time to honor the community builders of our past, with a philanthropic gift of your own.

On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.  This month’s column is contributed by Leona Knobloch, Development Director, Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.