Annual EBHS Conference, 39th Annual Economic and Business History Society Conference

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Investing in charities in the nineteenth century: the financialisation of philanthropy
Josephine Maltby, Janette Rutterford

Last modified: 2014-03-10


This study deals with financialisation, an important aspect of the development of charity during the 19th century. We argue that this has two key aspects. One was the growth of charitable provision via limited companies, mainly in the field of subsidised housing. These offered investors a satisfactory return, but at the cost of requirements re the level of rent and the behaviour expected from tenants which restricted the number of potential beneficiaries. And financialisation  was also important in the evaluation of claimants by the new Charities Organisation Society. This constituted a form of audit, with enquiry into claimants' behaviour, financial status and prospects, and refusal to support those seen as unreliable or unpredictable. We argue that these developments have significant implications for the social enterprise movement of the 20th and 21st centuries.