P. T. Barnum was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, showman and promoter of the 19th century. He is probably best known for his quote, "There's a sucker born every minute." But Barnum was a lot more complex than most people realize. He became the first show business millionaire. He created the Barnum & Bailey Circus and was a master at advertising and entertainment. Despite the outrageous promotions he came up with, he knew that his success depended upon giving his customers their money's worth.
Barnum also wrote a book, The Art of Money-Getting, that is a series of essays that illustrate his ideas and beliefs on business and life in general.
One of the essays gives his thoughts on the quality of being charitable.
"Of course men should be charitable, because it is a duty and a pleasure. But even as a matter of policy, if you possess no higher incentive, you will find that the liberal man will command patronage, while the sordid, uncharitable miser will be avoided.
"Solomon says: "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than meet, but it tendeth to poverty." Of course the only true charity is that which is from the heart.
"The best kind of charity is to help those who are willing to help themselves. Promiscuous almsgiving, without inquiring into the worthiness of the applicant, is bad in every sense. But to search out and quietly assist those who are struggling for themselves, is the kind that "scattereth and yet increaseth." But don't fall into the idea that some persons practice, of giving a prayer instead of a potato, and a benediction instead of bread, to the hungry. It is easier to make Christians with full stomachs than empty."