Elise Westhoff Discusses Philanthropy in America with NRI Chairman Peter Travers

Philanthropy Roundtable President and CEO Elise Westhoff interviewed Peter Travers, National Review Institute (NRI) chairman, at NRI Ideas Summit in Washington, D.C., on March 31, 2023. Travers also serves as a managing member of Chase Field LLC, a diversified investment firm he founded in 1992. Westhoff and Travers discussed philanthropy’s role in America and how it is a fundamental part of America’s strength.

Watch the full conversation here.

Elise Westhoff’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning. Thank you so much for joining us today. I’m Elise Westhoff, president and CEO of the Philanthropy Roundtable.

For those of you who don’t know, the Roundtable is a network of donors who care deeply about building a philanthropic movement that strengthens our free society. We achieve this by advancing our core values of liberty, opportunity and personal responsibility through strategic and effective philanthropy.

I’m honored to be in conversation today with a man who likely needs little introduction. Peter Travers is the chairman of NRI’s board. He’s also a successful businessman. He serves as a managing member of Chase Field LLC, a diversified investment firm that he founded in 1992. Before that, Peter worked as an investment banker and practiced securities law. In addition, he’s a committed philanthropist—which is what we’ll be discussing in greater detail shortly.

As you know, the theme of the NRI Ideas summit is “sources of American strength.” And, we’d love to talk to you about one of the greatest sources of that strength: Philanthropy. It’s uniquely American.

Americans gave half a trillion dollars to charitable causes last year. It offers the potential to solve some of our nation’s most pressing problems, and it improves the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.

From combating poverty and eradicating disease to ensuring every child has access to a quality education, philanthropy shapes the trajectory of our nation, and the lives of millions, in countless ways. And it’s made possible by our free-market system, the innovation it sparks and the wealth it creates.

Rather than looking to government to solve all of our problems, Americans often look to themselves and their communities and ask “What can we do?”

As a result, the solutions, those local solutions, that come from charitable giving are often far more durable and effective. And our rights to free speech and association allow us to serve as active citizens and support the causes and communities we care most about.

Unfortunately, all of this is now under attack. Not just philanthropy itself, but the broader free-market system and our constitutional rights and freedoms.

There are now efforts to restrict, coerce and shame philanthropists due to their chosen causes. For instance, calls for “greater transparency” are really efforts to undermine donor privacy, and attempts to pressure donors to give in certain ways are actually designed to control where dollars go.

So, it’s never been more important to approach philanthropy thoughtfully and strategically. It’s the best way to advance the values we all share and improve the lives of Americans from all backgrounds.

Watch the full interview here.

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