The entire family preferred to become wholeheartedly involved in their favourite philanthropic interests, rather than simply making random payments to worthy causes. In Frankfurt, Nathan's youngest child Louise (1820-1894) and her seven daughters were responsible for many of the family's 30 charitable foundations in the city, including a dental clinic, a free public library, a swimming bath, old people's homes, orphanages, funds to pay school fees, soup kitchens and hospitals. Vienna perhaps had the most astonishing variety of foundations established by the family: alongside the more usual hospitals, orphanages and educational foundations were a municipal theatre and a foundation for destitute photographers, one member of the family being a particular enthusiast for this art form.
Education and support for young people is an enduring aspect of Rothschild family philanthropy. Members of the Rothschild family supported the Jews’ Free School in London’s East End school over several generations. In London and Paris, social housing was a shared interest, resulting in the formation of the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company Limited (London) and the Rothschild Fondation (Paris) both of which constructed housing to an exceptionally advanced standard for the time.
Perhaps the most radical programme of Rothschild philanthropy was staged beyond the cities where the family established banking houses. Israel owes many of its early economic successes to the work of Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934), who founded numerous colonies for Jewish settlers. A silk factory, vineyard and flour mill, as well as the introduction of crops such as grapefruit and avocado, enabled the settlers to establish their economic independence.