rom the fourth floor board room of Citizens Bank in downtown Manchester,
Professor of History Jack Resch can see a panorama of the city stretching
Resch, the view is multilayered, although he conceives of it as one big
picture. Nearby are his home, his place of workthe University of
New Hampshire at Manchesterand many of the nonprofit and civic organizations
that he has served for decades. Just blocks away are the downtown YMCA,
Manchesters new Mill Yard Museum, and Child and Family Services
of New Hampshire.
To the north is Concord, the states capital and
home of the New Hampshire Humanities Council. As a longtime board member
of the council, Resch has helped bring to the state such programs as the
Philanthropy series and the lecture/discussion series, Choices
for the 21st Century.
To the west is Peterborough, the site of Reschs
historical research for his most recent book, Suffering Soldiers, that
leading historian Charles Royster called an important [and] original
On this June afternoon at Citizens Bank, Resch, a gifted
and seasoned public historian and teacher, will facilitate a discussion
on the history and traditions of American philanthropy. The program is
sponsored by the bank and the New Hampshire Humanities Council.
In this the Golden Age of Philanthropy, the
need to understand these issues has never been more critical. A recent
study estimates that charities could gain up to $25 trillion in bequests
during the next 50 years.
Present today are 35 distinguished guests who represent
the leadership of 20 nonprofit state organizations that deliver essential
social and cultural services to the state. Resch knows that for this audience,
understanding the historical strengths of American philanthropy is pragmatic.
Completely at ease, Resch surveys the board room. He begins:
What is the difference between charity and philanthropy?
Charity is giving to alleviate suffering,
according to one participant.
Its a religious obligation, suggests
Philanthropy, on the other hand, someone comments,
is giving to promote change or reform.
Resch clearly enjoys this give and take and guides it
skillfully through references which include works by John Winthrop, the
first governor of Massachusetts; Alexis de Tocqueville; and Andrew Carnegie.
de Tocquevilles fear for American democracy,
says Resch to the guests, was individualism or self love. He reasoned
that when democracy becomes atomized, it loses empathy and community.
de Tocqueville thought that America would lose its soul if it should lose
its enthusiasm to create civic associations.
In a vivid analogy, Resch describes the random but pervasive
work of nonprofits in this country. What we have in this country
might be seen as a great Jackson Pollack painting of communities,
His description illuminates a vital component of democratic
empowerment: a spontaneous, heartfelt belief that one can make a difference.
As the guests leave, they talk with each other about the discussion, their
organizations, and what they need to do next.
And for Resch, too, these values are key. Charles Bickford,
former director of the New Hampshire Humanities Council, recalls Reschs
work for the councils first-ever fund-raising campaign. We
exceeded our goal, says Bickford, and the campaign was just
for programming. Usually those dollars are very hard to get. As a board
member, Jack brings a wonderful sense of humor and a scholars focus
and attention to the work at hand.
Recently, Resch volunteered as the historical consultant
and contributor for Child and Family Services published history,
No Higher Calling, an account of its 150 years of service.
Jacks historical understanding also carried
forth into present day organizational issues, says Mike Ostrowski,
president of the statewide agency that serves abused and neglected children.
He has the talent to challenge your thinking while being supportive
of your effort.