Does Big Philanthropy Threaten Democracy?

April 19, 2018  • Aspen Ideas to Go

Sizeable donations to philanthropic foundations and institutions can tackle problems that the government and private sector can’t address. But large gifts can also be a threat to democracy. Philanthropic organizations are oddities in a democracy. The large gifts they take in come with little accountability, preferences from donors (sometimes in perpetuity), and generous tax subsidies. Rob Reich, co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford, wonders if giving is a way to convert private wealth into public influence.

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