Why Donor Privacy is Key to America’s Unique Charitable Tradition

Philanthropy Roundtable’s Free to Give campaign elevates the voices of everyday Americans who have dedicated their careers to supporting those in need. Their work is made possible by the freedom of all Americans to give to the causes and communities they care about.  

Some foundations and individual donors wish to remain anonymous because they prefer the attention stays focused on the work of the nonprofits they support. 

That’s true of the Colorado-based Anschutz Foundation. In a new Philanthropy Roundtable video, the foundation’s Executive Vice President Ted Harms discusses the importance of the right to give freely to causes and communities – and why preserving donor privacy is crucial.  

“We don’t try to … publicize what we do. We prefer that those doing the work get the credit for the work being done. We are merely there to help, assist in getting them the resources they need to actually conduct the work in an effective way,” Harms says.  

After all, he says, that desire to help others philanthropically is rooted in our nation’s founding. 

“Everyone that came here to form America … [had] a desire to be free, to make better decisions and do things differently,” he says. “Entrepreneurs, solving problems, making things better, kind of goes with philanthropic freedom. Once you make things better for yourself, don’t you have an obligation to do things for others as well?” 

But Harms says the causes and communities people support can be used against them, as donors have faced threats, harassment and intimidation for supporting controversial causes. That’s one reason he says donor privacy is crucially important for those supporting charities, noting that negative attention can dissuade donors from helping people. 

“We definitely believe philanthropic freedom and privacy are an important factor that should be maintained,” he says. 

View more stories about the importance of philanthropic freedom at FreeToGive.org. 

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