Philanthropy and Alexis de Tocqueville

“When an American asks for the cooperation of his fellow citizens, it is seldom refused; and I have often seen it afforded spontaneously and with great good will.”

– from Democracy in America by Alexis Charles-Henri Clerel de Tocqueville, who visited America in 1831 as a young man and was amazed at the volunteer spirit shown by the citizens of the young nation.

Tocqueville Society members’ investments lead the United Way system in creating opportunities for people to have better lives.

With nearly 27,000 members across the United Way system, Tocqueville Society members are strong champions for change.


Volunteers are a critical resource in United Way’s strategy to advance the common good.


Philanthropists all across America are making an impact on their communities through United Way. And United Ways nationwide recognize their most generous givers as members of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society.

The society is named for French aristocrat Alexis Charles-Henri Clerel de Tocqueville, who visited America in 1831 at the age of 26. He recorded his observations in Democracy in America, a study of American society and politics published in two volumes, one in 1835 and one in 1940.

In his book he applauded and immortalized the volunteer spirit he observed in his travels, as Americans again and again came to one another’s aid in times of need.

He wrote: “I must say I have seen Americans make great and real sacrifices to the public welfare; and I have noticed a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend faithful support to one another.”

United Way created the Alexis de Tocqueville Society in 1972. The Society’s Major Gifts and Recognition Program began in 1984. Since then, more than 400 local United Ways across the country have formed Alexis de Tocqueville Societies to honor their leading givers. Last year 24,307 de Tocqueville givers invested $500 million to help change lives and improve communities across the country.

The Society’s symbol is the fleur-de-lis or flower of the lily. In its traditional use to represent royalty, this symbol is said to signify perfection, light and life. Legend has it that Clovis, the Merovingian king of the Franks, adopted the symbol when water lilies showed him how to cross a river safely, enabling him to succeed in battle.


As a member, you will be listed in the national and local Alexis de Tocqueville Society leadership directories along with other prominent citizens in Beaufort and Jasper Counties and across America. You will be invited to the annual celebration and other special gatherings. Your Personal Giving Account will allow you to focus on specific agencies or issues while reaching your charitable giving goals with a single contribution managed for you by United Way of the Lowcountry.


Tina Gentry, 843-837-2000 or

For RMD Donation Instructions – Required Minimum Distribution RMD Document