Death and taxes

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Apparently planned donors don’t die: “their wills mature”. I wrote down this gem during one of my classes at NYU’s summer intensive in philanthropy and fundraising. I have to say, it’s proving a challenge to get into midtown every morning for a 9.30am start. While this is partly due to having enjoyed a very flexible working schedule for the past couple of years, I’m also uncomfortable with the unquestioning enthusiasm about the US philanthropy “industry” and how it relies on extremely wealthy individuals to correct the injustices of the system that facilitated their wealth in the first place.

Today I asked a question about donor demographics, seeking to place the white male and the white male’s wife in a broader cultural context. I mentioned that in the UK and Australia the attitude to government’s role in social justice, education and healthcare resulted in a very different attitude to private philanthropy. The response I got was simply that UK and Asian donors prefer giving to international non-government organizations; and that “until the tax regime changes, it won’t encourage philanthropy”. Because what else would we want to do, but to become more like the US?

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