The following is a section of The Philanthropy Roundtable’s extensive Donor Intent Resource Library. Click here to see the full library.
Philanthropic Choice and Donor Intent: Freedom, Responsibility and Public Interest by Curtis W. Meadows Jr.
A public policy argument for allowing donors to have the greatest freedom possible for their philanthropic choice, through the widest range possible of eligible nonprofit organizations, and with governmental respect for the donor’s choice.
How Public Is Private Philanthropy? Separating Reality from Myth
by Evelyn Brody and John Tyler
This Philanthropy Roundtable monograph rebuts recent theories that threaten donor intent, including the claim that donors’ wishes may be set aside if the government decides it doesn’t like what has been funded, and the claim that tax exemptions turn private giving into government “subsidies” that may be re-directed as the government sees fit.
American Philanthropic Diversity by Naomi Schaefer Riley
American philanthropy is extraordinarily diverse—but not just in terms of demographics. America’s robust tradition of philanthropic freedom means that donors are able to—and do—pursue a wide range of activities and interests.
“Examining the Role of Foundations in a Free Society” by Carl Schramm
A foundation head argues that fidelity to donor intent helps society by helping foundations be less politicized and more genuinely relevant to changing social conditions.
“You Can’t Take It With You” by Charles E. Rounds Jr.
In this review of Ray D. Madoff’s, Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the Dead, an expert on trusts rebuts a prominent argument that America should outlaw perpetual foundations—even though he advises donors that it’s usually unwise to establish a perpetual foundation.
The Great Philanthropists and the Problem of “Donor Intent”
by Martin Morse Wooster
Chapter four in this landmark book provides “A Legal History of Donor Intent,” beginning with medieval disputes over church property and ending with suggestions for donors drawn from modern case law.
“Charity Begins at Home, but Must It Stay There?” by John J. Miller
A cautionary tale of a state attorney general trying to bully a local foundation. Even though his intended victim was the Ford Foundation, which is no pillar of donor intent, the attorney general endangered the rights of donors everywhere.
“The Case for Limiting the Lives of Foundations” by Heather R. Higgins
A foundation president argues that donors should not be allowed to create perpetual foundations, precisely because of the risk that donor intent will inevitably be ignored. In the same booklet, another foundation head responds with “The Case for Perpetuity.”
“The Unraveling of Donor Intent: Lawsuits and Lessons”
by Kathryn Miree and Winton Smith
This detailed look at major lawsuits involving donor intent sketches the legal landscape that donors and grantees face, especially when efforts are made to change bequests.
One of the founding donors of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard explains how donor intent “fuels” the nonprofit sector and warns that professional managers can wreak havoc with a donor’s intent.
“Escaping the Perpetuity Mindset Trap” by Arthur Schmidt
An impassioned argument by the founder of Guidestar that “any nominal appreciation in the value of a perpetual endowment should be discounted” by the social cost incurred by having less relief of today’s “human suffering, environmental degradation, and other problems left unresolved.”
More Donor Intent Resources from The Philanthropy Roundtable
Donor Intent Resource Library
- Visit the full resource library to see the best articles, books, and discussions on the topic of donor intent
Protecting Donor Intent by Jeffrey J. Cain
- Get an electronic or print version of this practical guidebook.
- The Philanthropy Roundtable website’s special Donor Intent section where you can find our most recent articles and resources related to protecting donor intent.