Quite as interesting as any phase of the work have been the new lines entered upon by our committee. We have not been satisfied with giving to causes which have appealed to us. We have felt that the mere fact that this or the other cause makes its appeal is no reason why we should give to it any more than to a thousand other causes, perhaps more worthy, which do not happen to have come under our eye. The mere fact of a personal appeal creates no claim which did not exist before, and no preference over other causes more worthy which may not have made their appeal. So this little committee of ours has not been content to let the benevolences drift into the channels of mere convenience—to give to the institutions which have sought aid and to neglect others. This department has studied the field of human progress, and sought to contribute to each of those elements which we believe tend most to promote it. Where it has not found organizations ready to its hand for such purpose, the members of the committee have sought to create them. We are still working on new, and, I hope, expanding lines, which make large demands on one’s intelligence and study.
The so-called betterment work which has always been to me a source of great interest had a great influence on my life, and I refer to it here because I wish to urge in this connection the great importance of a father’s keeping in close touch with his children, taking into his confidence the girls as well as the boys, who in this way learn by seeing and doing, and have their part in the family responsibilities. As my father taught me, so I have tried to teach my children. For years it was our custom to read at the table the letters we received affecting the various benevolences with which we had to do, studying the requests made for worthy purposes, and following the history and reports of institutions and philanthropic cases in which we were interested.
The benevolent trust—the value of the COOePERATIVE principle in giving
Going a step farther in the plan of making benefactions increasingly effective which I took up in the last chapter under the title of “The Difficult Art of Giving,” I am tempted to take the opportunity to dwell a little upon the subject of combination in charitable work, which has been something of a hobby with me for many years.
If a combination to do business is effective in saving waste and in getting better results, why is not combination far more important in philanthropic work? The general idea of cooeperation in giving for education, I have felt, scored a real step in advance when Mr. Andrew Carnegie consented to become a member of the General Education Board. For in accepting a position in this directorate he has, it seems to me, stamped with his approval this vital principle of cooeperation in aiding the educational institutions of our country.