Thursday, April 26, 2018

Rise of Philanthropy Creating Ultra-Rich Think Tanks

As philanthropy both in the US and abroad continues to grow, think tanks are increasingly becoming the beneficiaries of that generosity, often times raking in tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Here is more about the state of philanthropy from Scott Sherman in Lapham's Quarterly:

Seventy thousand individuals have assets of $30 million or more, and five thousand households have assets of over $100 million. The superwealthy have a choice: they can allow the IRS to tax their money at 40 percent, or they can dispose of their fortunes via philanthropy. Consequently, in the past fifteen years, thirty thousand new private foundations have been established. There are now more than ninety thousand private foundations, whose assets total $700 billion. These foundations supply money to more than a million tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations. Some of these nonprofits are financially secure, but many chafe under immense anxiety as they await annual grants from their masters in the foundation suites.
Of the top eighty American foundations, only twenty-six post detailed information about their current grant making on public databases.

But while money is flowing to think tanks from philanthropic organizations and foundations, many have begun to question the motives behind that money, which is often used as a tool to buy influence and power and to steer political debate in a particular direction.