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Establishment philanthropy in America increasingly is on the defensive, and it may be even more so in the future, potentially including before policymakers. There is a history of Congressional interest in philanthropy, and there would be no shortage of subjects for any such official investigation to address, or of proposed policy reforms to consider.

A Giving Review online symposium that we are introducing today, “Conservatism and the Future of Tax-Incentivized Big Philanthropy,” is meant to earnestly and meaningfully explore conservatism’s past and future relationships with the country’s philanthropic establishment, which is overwhelmingly predominantly progressive, in our view.

The symposium will feature several contributions, including from those squarely within conservatism and others who have respect for it, to appear here during the coming weeks. The contributors are Jeffrey Cain, Joanne Florino, Craig Kennedy, Joel Kotkin, Julius Krein, and Michael Lind.

The exercise will raise what we think are hard questions, sometimes uncomfortably including self-critical ones. Implicitly or explicitly, in fact, various contributions will criticize the grantmaking of the foundation for which we all once worked, this website that we all now co-edit, and a nonprofit organization of which one of us was once a visiting fellow.

It will begin to offer what is maybe a little bit wider range of proposed potential answers than heretofore considered. We hope others may expand upon and develop them even more—as conservatism itself undergoes its continuing, uncomfortable redefinition and refinement—moving forward.   

We think and hope the “Conservatism and the Future of Tax-Incentivized Big Philanthropy” effort will help better inform ongoing debate and discussion about what Big Philanthropy is doing in, and to, America—and what could and should perhaps be done, including by enlivened conservatives, about it.


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