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The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports on an “unlikely donor.” John Hollingsworth is an admirable donor, committed to generously serving his hometown.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy ran an excellent article last week about an “unlikely donor.”

John Hollingsworth was extremely hard working and thrifty—and a millionaire businessman. During his life, the Chronicle reports, Hollingsworth gave locally and non-traditionally: “he was known for helping those who worked for him when they needed it most.”

Hollingsworth, by this description, is indeed an unusual donor—and that’s an unfortunate thing. This stands in stark relief to so many elite donors known for endowing chairs, making the next largest-ever gift to Harvard, or starting their own mini-projects at think tanks.

None of these acts of giving is bad per se, but Hollingsworth’s charity is a breath of fresh air. This is a beautiful story of real charity and magnanimous giving, rather than so-called “strategic philanthropy”—an approach to giving that is so distracted by outcomes that it so easily forgets generosity and compassion. Hollingsworth, in a true display of charity, made a “no-strings-attached bequest” to his hometown Greenville, SC.

After his death, the foundation continues his legacy by funding mostly general operating grants—a fundraiser’s dream, of course, and frankly the more mission-focused approach to grantmaking. The foundation trustees should be applauded for maintaining Hollingsworth’s donor intent by giving locally and lavishly.

It is well worth a few minutes to read this story about a donor whose generosity is providing real value to his friends, employees, and neighbors. Hollingsworth is not a world-historical donor whose name will go down with the famed phenoms, ranked forever among the Gateses and Zuckerbergs. But Hollingsworth is more likely transforming actual peoples’ lives in one South-Carolina town that deserves a bit of love.

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