Jack Salmon in Discourse: Philanthropy Under Attack

In an op-ed recently published in Discourse entitled “Philanthropy Under Attack,” Jack Salmon, director of Policy Research at Philanthropy Roundtable, wrote that the United States retains a vibrant charitable sector, in part, because the right to donor privacy remains protected under the Constitution. He discusses current threats to donor privacy and makes the case to stay vigilant against unnecessary regulatory restrictions that will burden the philanthropic sector and those who choose to give anonymously.

Below are excerpts from the article:

“Today, the United States remains head and shoulders above all other nations when it comes to the success and vibrancy of its charitable sector. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, nonprofit contributions made up 5.6% of gross domestic product in 2022. In other words, the value of contributions to GDP from American nonprofit organizations in 2022 was roughly equal to the entire economies of Sweden, Denmark and Norway combined. The level of annual giving is equally impressive. In 2021, total contributions were $485 billion, primarily from individual donors, according to the Giving USA 2022 Annual Report on philanthropy.”

“Sadly, we are seeing burgeoning attempts by policymakers to introduce legislation that would erode donor privacy, expose donors to harassment and disincentivize charitable giving. Politically motivated attacks on donor privacy are often driven by a belief that policy-oriented nonprofits and donors illegitimately interfere with politics.”

“Increasingly negative rhetoric in reference to the philanthropic sector is dangerous precisely because it undermines the trust that motivates Americans to give freely and generously. In 2022 56% of Americans said they trusted nonprofits, down a statistically significant 3 percentage points from 2020 (59%). Trust in philanthropy edged down from 36% to 34% over the same period.”

“Robust institutions of civil society are too important for us to stand aside as populist interests seek to erode these fundamental institutions. If we are to keep the Tocquevillian ideal alive, we must refrain from imposing new regulatory restrictions and government burdens on the philanthropic sector. We should seek to enhance, not decay, philanthropic institutions of civil society.”

Please continue reading “Philanthropy Under Attack,” at Discourse.

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