Joanne Florino in Real Clear Policy: Punishing Large Foundations Will Hurt Charitable Giving

In an op-ed published in Real Clear Policy, Philanthropy Roundtable Adam Meyerson Distinguished Fellow in Philanthropic Excellence Joanne Florino explained that populist efforts by political newcomers like Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance to tax the assets of large philanthropists are “sorely misguided” … and will have grave consequences for charitable giving.

Below are excerpts from the op-ed entitled “Punishing Large Foundations Will Harm Civil Society”:

“Vance’s brand of populism resonates with many voters, but one area in which his advice is sorely misguided involves private philanthropy. Vance has proposed a tax on the assets of large philanthropies — calling out the Ford Foundation by name — claiming it is ‘the fair thing to do’ because these institutions create ‘a massive left-wing bias at the heart of our society.’ Vance has also suggested requiring foundations with more than $100 million in assets to spend 20% of their endowment each year — or else lose their tax-exempt status.

We have heard this sort of anti-philanthropy sentiment before from various critics left and right of the political spectrum. And once again we urge caution. This line of thinking betrays a lack of knowledge about what our nation’s charitable sector actually looks like and how it functions.   

It’s essential that those who seek to kneecap philanthropic generosity on ideological and political grounds remember what goes around comes around. Ill-conceived government mandates will not discriminate — nor should they. Additional regulations will not just burden the foundations politicians or bureaucrats dislike, but all foundations governed by the same rules. Unfortunately, we know from history that large organizations have the resources to navigate these waters, while the smaller organizations are the ones who truly pay the price.

When we focus too much on large foundations that tend to bankroll left-wing causes, we lose sight of all the good being done by individual donors, community foundations and smaller philanthropies. All told, the U.S. boasts around 185,173 foundations, according to the latest data from Cause IQ. Of those, 145,262 are private foundations with 90,247 of that total number having less than $250,000 a year in revenues. These small givers provide a vital lifeline to help people in their communities and enrich and strengthen our nation’s civil society. Without their generosity, we would all be far worse off.”

Please continue reading “Punishing Large Foundations Will Harm Civil Society” at Real Clear Policy.

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