I have heard the talking point that the wealthy are the biggest contributors to charity and charitable causes. I have also heard that conservatives are a larger donation base then so called “bleeding heart liberals” So I decided to do some research on this subject. This is what I found.
There were and are, of course, many other ways for the upper class to preserve its privilege. “High culture” is often purchased through large-scale philanthropic donations to symphonies, art museums, and historical organizations (some historical sites are nothing more than lavish mansions devoted to the acquisitions of one family, such as the Vanderbilts or Hearsts). In the realm of private philanthropy, about half of all money donated comes from multimillionaires. Although some charitable programs help the needy and neglected, the fact is that American philanthropy is not primarily devoted to such causes.
Charitable philanthropy directly serves the rich. Teresa Odendahl, in her book Charity Begins at Home, calculated that over two thirds of philanthropic giving goes to “elite non-profit institutions-Ivy League universities, museums, symphonies, think tanks, private hospitals, prep schools, and the like.” Through such donations, which are invariably tax-deductible, “the wealthy end up funding their own interests.” Of the $124 billion spent on private philanthropy in 1991, only 10 percent went for “human service” projects that serve the poor. Furthermore, as the richest citizens began making more money they began giving away less of it. In 1979 individuals who earned more than $1 million gave away about 7 percent of their after-tax income; by 1996, that figure had fallen to just 4 percent. Likewise, it should come as no surprise that in 1995, when corporate profits jumped a record of 30 percent to over $600 billion, corporate philanthropy went up only 8 percent, accounting for just $7 billion of the $144 billion given by all sources.
The staying power of great industrial fortunes has been formidable when they’ve been invested in such places as the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation. These organizations are devoted to exploring and recommending new directions in public policy; while they generally support the agenda of the corporate world in business matters, they are often liberal on social issues regarding race and gender, a point of great consternation to many conservatives.
Hmmmm. I wonder if that is why such “charitable foundations” such as the Heritage Foundation, The Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, The Koch Foundation, American Enterprise Institute are all considered 501c4 charitable foundations. How much of their “donations” do you think go toward helping or promoting policies that help the less fortunate? I wonder how many of these “donations” would even be made if they were not allowed to deduct the “contributions” on their taxes?
Looks as if we will find out soon enough.
The funny thing is that most of true charitable giving is not even measurable. Most people who give to charity are not able to “itemize” their deductions or giving. Therefore it is not shown where the giving came from. Canned food drives, local stores asking you to purchase some non-perishables for local food bank.. Not measured. I would guess this is where the bulk of giving for those less fortunate come from, other than food stamps and State and Federal programs. Most Churches are not even giving that much. It would probably be less than two weeks worth of the passing of the plate, and that only goes to those in the Church, Not the community as a whole.
Here is another recent article showing that contributions to “charity” are more or less donations to Universities, museums and other “policy” type foundations.
This year’s top donors gave to 21 different hospitals or health groups, and 33 different universities or other educational establishments. Arts, freedom, and religious groups rounded out the remainder. Foreign aid and assistance charities received relatively little of the pot.
To the conservatives : I have a hard time believing that people who have the attitude as shown below would help much, if at all.
Typical of the left. The “poor” and middle- class in this country have more than any generation anywhere, ever on earth benefitting from the innovation and ingenuity of the “rich.” Yet, people like Lowrey think the rich owe them more as if the pie is finite and the more Gates has the less it leaves everyone else. Get a clue! The pie gets bigger and everyone’s piece has gotten bigger (in the last 30 years). Who’s the greedy ones here? By the way, I make $40,000 a year because of choices and decisions I’ve made, not because somebody else controlled my life. Why don’t you people get one?
Aren’t you the party that calls those who do not make millions, moochers and leeches and parasites? BURDENS ON SOCIETY?
Wouldn’t you tell them, “if they won’t work, they shouldn’t eat”? Despite the fact that you wouldn’t offer them a job, even if they begged you for one, saying, “you should support yourself.”