Philanthropic Freedom

Giving Religiously

It is well known that America’s religiosity has a great deal to do with our unusually high levels of giving. A new study shows that 73 percent of the dollars donated by households in the U.S. go to organizations with religious ties.

Letter to the IRS

Adam Meyerson, president of The Philanthropy Roundtable, sent a letter on February 25 to John Koskinen, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, offering comments on the proposed rules for tax-exempt organizations on candidate-related political activity. 

An Especially Charitable Day

A new annual tradition aims to restore the giving season—bringing donations topping $19 million to charities in just its second year. 

Tax Tabulations

The American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks calculated that a proposed 28 percent cap on charitable tax deductions would likely lead to a $9.4 billion reduction in charitable giving in the first year of the change. 

‘Protect Giving’ Day

The Alliance for Charitable Reform helped host "Protect Giving" Day, bringing more than 200 charitable sector leaders representing 140 organizations to Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to protect the charitable deduction. 

Free to Give

Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, discusses the potential effects of capping the charitable deduction, AEI’s Philanthropic Freedom Project, and other issues related to tax policy and philanthropy.

President’s Note

The Philanthropy Roundtable President Adam Meyerson illuminates misconceptions about "dark money."

Embarrassment of Riches?

Robert Dalzell's new book on the "problem of vast individual fortunes" is a little threadbare, argues John Steele Gordon.

When Charities Behave Badly

Reviewing Ken Stern's harsh critique of American charities, Leslie Lenkowsky and Suzanne Garment defend diversity and freedom in philanthropy.

It’s About Freedom, Not Finances

The purpose of the charitable deduction transcends tax policy, argues Alexander Reid. It should be thought of as a form of tax immunity that protects civil society from the government. Reid explores the history of the charitable deduction and the necessary boundaries for a healthy democracy.

Be On the Look Out

Adam Meyerson defends philanthropic freedom against encroachments from the IRS.

Scoring Philanthropic Freedom

A new report from the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Prosperity analyzes the way 13 nations treat civic organizations and individual giving.

Congressional Tax Reform Working Group Report is Released

The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released a report this week addressing the findings of 11 House Ways and Means Committee tax reform working groups.

Open Letter from Economists on the Charitable Deduction

This letter on the value of the charitable deduction was signed by 229 economists including Nobel Laureate Edward Prescott, former CBO director Rudy Penner, former Council of Economic Advisers chair (President George W. Bush) and Harvard professor N. Gregory Mankiw, and George Mason University professor Tyler Cowen.

Interview with Leroy Hood

America’s most productive biologist discusses philanthropy’s role in science. Read the full interview here.

New Book on Transparency in Philanthropy

Recent calls for more transparency in private philanthropy have increased the need for philanthropic organizations to carefully plan and think about what information they will release to the public and how they will do it. To help organizations answer these questions, The Philanthropy Roundtable has published a new guidebook “Transparency in Philanthropy” by John Tyler.

ACR Submits Letter to Ways & Means Charitable/Exempt Organizations Working Group

The Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR) submitted a letter for public record this week to the House Ways and Means Charitable/Exempt Organizations Working Group, focusing on issues important to the philanthropic community.

In Defense of Private Giving

New pressures are building on philanthropic freedom. With these in mind, The Philanthropy Roundtable is assembling a library of relevant classic readings. These sketch the vital role private giving has always played in improving America—and outline private philanthropy’s continuing importance to the nation. We have selected these readings for their readability, intellectual significance, and timeliness, and edited them to be compact and to the point. Please continue to visit this resource library as it expands.

What the White House Doesn’t Understand about the Charitable Deduction

The administration’s push for the 28 percent cap on the charitable deduction raises serious questions about its understanding of philanthropy’s value to American society notes Howard Husock in his “Forbes” column.

ACR Alert: 28% Cap on Charitable Giving Revisited

Comments by now-confirmed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew underscore the belief that we are again facing a 28% limitation. Read the update from The Philanthropy Roundtable’s Alliance for Charitable Reform here.

Guidebook — philanthropic freedom

How Public Is Private Philanthropy?

Should private funds be treated as “public money”? The unique strength of American philanthropy is found in our freedom to identify a societal need and dedicate personal time, treasure, and talent to address it. Today, a new set of challenges confronts American philanthropy as activists, legislators, and policymakers are claiming governmental authority to regulate the activities of philanthropists. This comprehensive legal analysis is a second edition to its original publication in 2009.

Why Charitable Giving Is Important

The Philanthropy Roundtable’s Alliance for Charitable Reform caught up with Dave Wills, Brent Christopher, and John Ashmen following their testimonies before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on charitable giving incentives. Check out the video from their interviews here.

Charitable Giving Coalition Testifies Before Congress

Dave Wills, president of the National Christian Foundation, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on behalf of the Alliance for Charitable Reform. The committee held the hearing to discuss charitable giving incentives as it moves toward possible tax reform. Check out a summary of the hearing here.

A Boundary to Keep

The purpose of the charitable deduction transcends tax policy asserts Alexander Reid. It should be thought of as a form of tax immunity that protects civil society from the government. In this essay published in ‘The Exempt Organization Tax Review’, Reid looks at the history of the charitable deduction and the boundaries needed to protect civil society.

The Rising Threat to the Charitable Deduction

Howard Husock discusses recent threats to the charitable deduction and warns against viewing it as “just one more ‘tax expenditure.’”

A Free Society and a Good Society—We Can Have Both

When privately funded institutions are free to flourish and compete with government, citizens reap the benefits. In this selection from his book “Reclaiming the American Dream” Richard Cornuelle discusses the critical role of private foundations and individual givers in taking action for the public good.

Beware the Concept of “Tax Expenditures”

A cautionary about using the slippery term “tax expenditures” from the book “To Empower People” by Peter Berger and Richard John Neuhaus.

Limiting the Charitable Deduction Hurts the Poor

In a recent essay for the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas, Richard Epstein looks at the broader impact of limiting the charitable deduction.

Preserving National Values Through the Charitable Deduction

Yale professor of economics and finance Robert J. Shiller defends the charitable deduction in his recent column for the New York Times.

Philanthropy’s 3 Percent Solution

Adam Meyerson looks at the American tradition of philanthropy, and considers ways a national increase in charitable giving can continue to further strengthen our free society.

Philanthropic Transparency

The Philanthropy Roundtable and the Aspen Institute recently hosted a panel to explore the complex issue of transparency in the philanthropic community. Click here to watch the video of this special roundtable discussion.

The Case Against Mandatory Counting

Philanthropy Roundtable president Adam Meyerson makes the case against any effort to require or put political pressure on foundations and other donors to track their philanthropy by race, ethnicity, gender, and other demographic categories.

The Great Charitable Myth

Is there harm in treating philanthropic dollars as public money? Heather Higgins reveals the dangers of this fallacy, and discusses the definitive legal arguments on this important topic.

What’s Behind Recent Attacks on the Charitable Tax Deduction?

Opponents believe the government knows how to spend money better than private citizens, that the public sector can pick winners and losers in the charitable sector, and that monolithic solutions trump diversity and experimentation.

Protecting the Charitable Deduction

The Philanthropy Roundtable and our legislative arm, the Alliance for Charitable Reform, are honored to be active members of a coalition that has come together to protect the charitable deduction. Adam Meyerson discusses this extraordinary coalition and outlines the importance of protecting the charitable deduction from proposals by political leaders that would diminish charitable giving.

Philanthropy Roundtable and ACR Disappointed by Obama Budget on Charitable Deduction

The President’s proposed budget would limit the charitable deduction and lays out tax reform principles, which include tax hikes and the “Buffett Rule.” Read our response here.

The Generosity of America

Adam Meyerson discusses the history of generosity in America and warns of the threats to American philanthropy. Read the adaptation of his speech delivered in the “First Principles on First Fridays” lecture series sponsored by Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship.

The Myth of the “Third” Sector

In 1980, the distinguished social critic Irving Kristol (who first convened The Philanthropy Roundtable) delivered to the annual conference of the Council on Foundations a challenging address entitled “Foundations and the Sin of Pride.” This extract of that speech presents Kristol’s explanation that philanthropic work is emphatically part of the private sector and his insistence that if philanthropy is to remain effective it must resist being displaced or centralized into bland uniformity by the government.

Necessary, Important, and in Jeopardy

Here is a timely warning by Senate icon Daniel Patrick Moynihan on the subject of government vs. private social aid. Presented at the charter meeting of the philanthropic group Independent Sector more than 20 years ago, this forgotten clarion call was recently unearthed by Indiana University professor of public affairs and philanthropy Les Lenkowsky. It may be more relevant than ever.

America Is Built on Giving

Philanthropic freedom is an indispensable part of political freedom. This is extracted and adapted from “The Generosity of America,” a speech by Roundtable president Adam Meyerson to Hillsdale College.

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