27 November 2018

#GivingTuesday and a Letter from a “Relentless Optimist”

Thousands of volunteers and organizations will participate in the annual global day of giving known as #GivingTuesday today in an effort to further support of the nonprofit sector and charitable organizations. #GivingTuesday is a movement to designate a national day of giving on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

On this day, we wanted to share a letter authored by Max Williams, president and CEO of the Oregon Community Foundation, in which he espouses the character of philanthropy and charitable giving in a cynical age. He outlines the fundamental role of charities in our civil society, explaining that charitable gifts belong those private institutions, not the government.

Too often, critics of philanthropy begin their criticism with the viewpoint that the “money” donated really belongs to the government, not the individuals making the donation. They use terms like “uncaptured taxes,” “exploited tax code,” or “mounting losses to the US Treasury” to suggest that tax incentives favoring charitable giving are unfair yet they fail to acknowledge that the charitable deduction is the only tax deduction through which the donor receives no direct benefit.

Other issues addressed by Williams include the small amount of money given the charities compared to government spending, the criticism of so-called “philanthro-capitalists,” and the role charities are playing in stemming the erosion of civic engagement. You can read Williams’ full letter here.