Andrew Carnegie: The Best Fields for Philanthropy

“Surplus wealth should be considered as a sacred trust, to be administered during the lives of its owners, by them as trustees, for the best good of the community in which and from which it had been acquired.” — Andrew Carnegie, The Best Fields for Philanthropy

On October 17, 2013, at the Scottish Parliament, the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy is being awarded to individuals who embrace Andrew Carnegie’s philosophy of using private wealth for public good. The medal ceremony is the culmination of Andrew Carnegie International Legacy Week, a good time to remember that Carnegie didn’t just want to give away his money—he wanted to inspire others to do likewise.

Carnegie’s essay The Gospel of Wealth, written in 1889, laid the foundation for modern philanthropy (“scientific philanthropy,” as he called it). A second essay, The Best Fields for Philanthropy, written later that same year, provided specific examples of what he thought would be the best places for millionaires to bestow their surplus wealth. The Carnegie Corporation issued a poster based on that essay — pictured below — in 1935 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Carnegie’s birth.