A recent conversation with Pat Hininger made this article by Pablo Eisenberg of particular note. Pat inferred that too many of the rich donors in the Kansas City area seem to only make sizable donations to the theater, the arts or other causes which are able to name something after them or create an enduring notice of their philanthropy.
This article makes it clear that such is the case throughout the country for donations of the rich and powerful and therefore can be more a hindrance than a benefit for the poor and powerless.
Donors Who Lavish Money on Elite Institutions Only Exacerbate the Wealth Gap
Pablo Eisenberg, Senior Fellow, Georgetown Public Policy Institute
7/11/14 – Huffington Post
“Most Americans probably think a major goal of philanthropy is to fight poverty. But a closer look reveals that giving by foundations and philanthropists exacerbates wealth inequality in the United States.”
“Look at some of the trends:
- Thousands of local fundraising groups have been created to raise private money for public schools–and almost all of them channel resources primarily to schools attended by the children of people who live in affluent neighborhoods.
- Elite colleges and universities are the major beneficiaries of multimillion-dollar gifts, and its those kinds of donations that are a key reason giving to higher education grew 9 percent last year. Yet these institutions are so high-priced, few low-income and working-class students can afford to attend.
- Arts institutions saw donations soar in the past year, according to “Giving USA,” also because of donations by the wealthy. Most of the institutions that benefit from the bulk of private donations are established institutions that cater to the upper and middle classes. Meanwhile, “Giving USA” showed much smaller gains for social-service groups and other kinds of organizations that raise money primarily from people who aren’t multibillionaires.
- America’s foundations and wealthiest donors give only a small proportion of their total donations to local and grassroots organizations.
“Philanthropy has always benefited such elite institutions, but as the richest Americans have gotten richer, they are creating an even greater gulf between rich and poor.
“After all, the biggest 10 gifts made so far this year have gone mostly to colleges and hospitals. Harvard, Dartmouth, and the University of Notre Dame are among the biggest beneficiaries. Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center also have received gifts of more than $75-million.
“America’s multimillionaires neglect the institutions that serve poor and working-class students, community colleges, public universities, and smaller non-elite institutions. They don’t seem to care that they are supporting a dysfunctional system that is devoting fewer and fewer resources to teaching, sustains a growing and bloated administrative structure, and ignores the poor and unjust conditions of adjunct faculty that now make up a substantial portion of the college teaching force.
“It is hard to imagine philanthropy will do much to transform the wealth gap anytime soon given the composition of foundation boards, which continue to be dominated by America’s elite and rarely include average citizens or leaders of nonprofits with expertise on the problems grant makers are trying to tackle.”