Tightwads a drag on change

By Todd Cohen

Philanthropy can change the world.

Too often, though, those who control wealth seem to want to take it with them.

Epitomizing high-impact change are philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates and rocker Bono, named persons of the year by Time for their unprecedented efforts to improve global health and fight global poverty.

Yet wealth can be tight-fisted.

The New York Times says a NewTithing Group study finds the share of their investment assets donated to charity by working-age Americans making $50,000 to $100,000 a year is two to six times more than that of Americans making over $10 million.

And The Wall Street Journal says even though higher education gets $24 billion a year in donations, or roughly 10 percent of charitable giving in the U.S., and many of the wealthiest college endowments often generate double-digit investment returns, many of those endowments often spend less than 5 percent of their assets.

Charitable foundations pinch pennies, too, giving away only 5 percent of their assets each year, the minimum required by law, and scream at the suggestion they give more.

If it followed the lead of the Gateses and Bono, philanthropy could do much more to heal and repair the world.

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