Foundations should donate more

By Todd Cohen

Charitable regulation perpetuates wealth for foundations, which are using their power to fight calls for regulatory changes requiring they donate more.

They must fear that parting with more than the share of assets the law requires they give each year would erode their market power.

Foundations and their wealthy creators want it all.

They want up-front tax breaks they get from parking their wealth in foundations.

They want the power that flows from giving money to charities that must grovel for it.

And instead of actually giving away the money that yields tax breaks and power, foundations oppose giving away more than the 5 percent of their foundation assets the law requires they donate in any year.

And they want to be able to keep counting salaries and other overhead as part of that 5 percent.

What is more, as The New York Times reported recently, foundations are giving less than ever to groups that serve the poor.

Foundations say they must invest most of their assets to sustain their philanthropy.

But what they really are sustaining is the wealth they control and the power it gives them.

Charities should push Congress for tax breaks that reward giving, not hoarding.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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