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Horizons and Hope: The Future of Philanthropy Throughout history, most civilizations had pyramidal social structures, with a few on top lording it over uneducated masses below. And it was in the best interest of those on top to make sure that those masses stayed there. Our ancestors assumed this pyramidal structure to be permanent and inherent, with political affairs aimed only at deciding which small group held sway at the apex. For all that time, charitable efforts (if any) were aimed at reducing the pain endured by those at the bottom, not at lifting and emptying the bottom rungs of society altogether. Those who gave to the poor did not envision empowering them with the skills and privileges of equal citizenship. In sharp contrast, our contemporary social pattern is diamond-shaped. For the first time, in large portions of the world, the well-off actually outnumber the poor! The educated outnumber the uneducated. And those who see themselves as empowered make up a majority.