Pope Foundation, N.C. Free-Market Groups Honored With Network Award

October 2, 2013

State Policy Network, a national group that strengthens free-market think tanks in the states, has honored the John William Pope Foundation and other liberty-oriented groups in North Carolina with the second annual Network Award....

Is all charity created equal?

August 28, 2013

Are donors who give to inner-city missions worthy of higher praise than donors who give to the opera? That’s the central question examined in two competing columns recently published by Philanthropy Journal. In the first column, author Eric Friedman argues that philanthropy should be, principally, about helping the poor: Is philanthropy about helping those in need or pursuing the personal passions of the donor? If it is the former, then shouldn't a central tenet be to try to provide the most help possible? In this case, such donor-driven strategies should be widely regarded as failed philanthropy. Being honest is not just about not lying but also requires a certain level of frankness. Not every good cause is equally good, and not every donor is equally deserving of praise. As long as the philanthropic community views those who donate millions to their favorite opera houses to be as generous as those who help the poorest people in the world, there is a lack of honesty. We...

No, the Pope Foundation doesn’t give to Republicans

August 27, 2013

Responding to false statements recently made in a syndicated column, Pope Foundation Executive Vice President David Riggs corrected the record in this letter to the editor in The News & Observer (emphasis added): The Aug. 20 Other Opinion piece “The massacre of the N.C. model” by Bloomberg’s Al Hunt contained false statements about Art Pope and the John William Pope Foundation. Hunt wrote, “Pope has given to the Republican Party through his political action committee, foundations and personal contributions.” This is unequivocally false. Art Pope is a proud Republican, but he does not have his own political action committee. His personal contributions to the Republican Party do not come close to $1 million, even over his lifetime. The Pope Foundation, a charitable organization, has never contributed anything to the Republican Party. By reprinting Hunt’s false statement that the Pope Foundation contributed to the Republican Party, you falsely accused the foundation...

Study: Eliminating the charitable tax deduction means fewer jobs

August 20, 2013

A new report, "The Economics of the Blank Slate" published by the Tax Foundation, finds that eliminating the federal charitable tax deduction would slow economic growth and reduce employment. The Nonprofit Times has more: Losing the charitable deduction would cause a slowdown in U.S. economic growth because it would increase people’s taxable incomes, pushing more of them into higher tax brackets, reducing incentives to work, save, and invest, according to the study. This estimate may actually understate the harm because the Tax Foundation’s simulation model does not estimate the social or other benefits in turn provided by the charities, hospitals, and educational institutions supported by donations. If the revenue gain from eliminating the deduction were put back into an across-the-board cut in individual tax rates, however, the lower marginal rates would soften the tax system’s biases against investment and work, which would expand the quantities of both labor and...

Peter Buffett’s misstep on philanthropy

July 29, 2013

Peter Buffett — son of the man famous for being rich, Warren Buffett — wrote an op-ed appearing in The New York Times deriding what he terms "philanthropy colonialism." The process goes something like this: Wealthy donors try to alleviate the guilt they feel for their success by taking part in philanthropic enterprises, but they don't possess the knowledge to really know how to solve the problems at hand. The end result is perpertuating a system of inequality while assuaging the consciences of the rich. "The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over," Buffett writes. But Howard Husock, writing in Forbes, takes issue with Buffett's premise: Buffett stands in a tradition of heirs to great fortunes uneasy about the source of their wealth–one that dates at least to John D. Rockefeller Jr., who stepped away from the management of Standard Oil.  He is not wrong  in all his somewhat rambling observations: the idea that...

For whom are the liberal arts?

July 26, 2013

That's the question asked by Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill in this blog post in Philanthropy Daily: The late Earl Shorris had a radical answer to that question: the liberal arts are for those of all socioeconomic backgrounds, including those who are poor. This is a quite radical assertion. Traditionally, a liberal arts college education was a privilege of the economic elite, or at least of the upper middle class. In the United States, the GI Bill made liberal arts education the province of the middle and even working class—although accompanied by the expectation that a liberal arts education should lift graduates out of the working class at least into the middle class—that is, a liberal arts education is for those who come from, or aspire to, the upper socioeconomic classes. In his posthumously published book (Shorris died last year), Shorris describes how he pitched the liberal arts course he designed for poor people to prospective students: “You’ve been...

Freeing the nonprofit sector from government encroachment

July 22, 2013

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, James Piereson of the Manhattan Institute suggests that Americans revaluate the charitable tax deduction in light of the large number of nonprofits that now rely heavily on government funds to operate: Debate continues in Washington over limiting the charitable deduction for the wealthy to help balance the budget. Billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, in addition to influential advocacy groups like Independent Sector, an umbrella organization of 600 charities, insist that the charitable deduction is vital to preserve America's vibrant voluntary tradition. Yet the nonprofit sector has problems beyond the charitable deduction. For much of U.S. history, nonprofits have operated as a check on government by providing private avenues to serve the public interest. Unfortunately, American charities—and more broadly, the entire nonprofit sector—have become a creature of big government. Piereson makes a practical suggestion: create an online...