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The charitable deduction is at risk. There is movement afoot to regulate philanthropy through identity politics. And some would like to reduce or eliminate tax-advantaged giving to foundations. I wrote a short piece for Washington Legal Foundation that was published recently on five threats to philanthropic freedom.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

The generosity of individual Americans is the envy of the world. No developed country even comes close to the amount of time that Americans volunteer or the amount of money Americans give to charity. Within eight days of Hurricane Katrina, Americans had donated over $580 million to relief efforts; within fifteen days of the earthquake in Haiti, $528 million. Collectively, Americans gave over $308 billion to charity in the recessionary year of 2008. We are uniquely, even congenitally, generous. When it comes to philanthropy, something has gone gloriously right in the United States.

Yet one would hardly know this from the litany of grievances and regulatory proposals now emanating from activists, politicians, and philanthropic bureaucrats. Recent years have yielded bumper crops of reports, legislative efforts, and pleas calling for greater oversight, transparency, and governance of America's independent charitable sector. In different times, these complaints might be brushed aside as the perennial chatter of self-proclaimed and self-serving advocacy groups. However, as the effects of the recession linger -- widespread unemployment, soaring deficits, budget shortfalls, and popular dissatisfaction with elite institutions -- long-held grievances against private philanthropy may find a more receptive ear, especially given Washington's reform-minded political ethos.

From the proposed decrease in the charitable tax deduction to greater government intrusion into the operation of private foundations, there are numerous ways in which philanthropic freedom is now in jeopardy. In particular, five ideas and trends threaten to undermine America's status as the most generous country in the world.

You can read the entire article here.

1 thought on “Five threats to philanthropic freedom”

  1. Norm Hapke says:

    Many of these things may not come to pass but it is dangerous that all of these assaults so clearly presented here are possible. The first one strikes many I’ve talked to as misguided but that doesn’t stop them from feeling guilty as Greenlining plays the race card. Most foundations are very receptive to the siren song of ‘social justice’ and it strikes their sense of guilt at being privileged. This must be resolutely fought as freedom to decide is a key factor in the ability of charities to operate.

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