President-Elect Biden Has a Choice to Make About Philanthropy

President-Elect Biden Has a Choice to Make About Philanthropy

Nov 12, 2020 Debi Ghate

Though technically not yet determined, it seems all but certain that our country will have a new president sworn in on January 20, 2021. President-Elect Joe Biden will have his hands full with an urgent agenda: dealing with a pandemic, a deeply divided populace, a serious economic downturn, and threats from foreign aggressors, among other issues.

Meanwhile, our sector has been talking about proposals such as the one being floated by philanthropist-activist John Arnold and law professor/sector critic Ray Madoff to push Congress to introduce new regulation on philanthropists. My post here summarizes some of the issues raised in that proposal and explains how it may be an attempt to solve problems that really do not exist. It is one of several similar efforts to force the sector to limit its flexibility, dictate when and how dollars should be spent, etc. The people behind these efforts will lobby the new administration to advance their agenda. 

Given the seriousness of what Biden will need to throw his energy and effort into addressing quickly, it seems he has a choice to make when it comes to philanthropy. The sector has demonstrated it is committed and ready to help the country deal with the pandemic on all fronts, from developing vaccines to helping kids continue with their education.

Philanthropy can be a critical ally for the new administration. Ensuring maximum philanthropic freedom will make it easier for the sector to continue providing a critical set of resources for urgent problems in America.

What’s more important right now? Solving real problems with philanthropy’s help, or “solving” non-existent problems that will only make it harder for philanthropy to act? We hope President-Elect Biden will recognize that there’s only one choice here.