Articles on Giving

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Consumers often distrust mission-driven groups that earn profits. Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com

A big hurdle do-good companies face

People may initially assume the worst when they encounter for-profit companies with social missions. What can these social ventures with good intentions do to gain people’s support?
Americans make charitable donations for many reasons. Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com

What influences American giving?

Economic trends, not politics, typically influence how money money Americans donate to charity. Yet some advocacy groups say their donations surged after the 2016 presidential election.
People have always asked for alms, including the men depicted in this 17th-century European etching. Wenceslaus Hollar/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Give and take: Credentials could aid panhandling

The courts are saying that down-and-out Americans have a right to seek curbside alms despite efforts to ban the practice. Two scholars have come up with an alternative to anti-panhandling ordinances.
The number of Americans who can get a tax break through their charitable contributions could tumble during the Trump administration. Helen's Photos/www.shutterstock.com

Why Congress should let everyone deduct charitable gifts from their taxes

Trump's proposed tax changes would reduce charitable giving, research suggests. But letting everyone use a tax break mostly enjoyed by the rich might prevent that.
Jeff Bezos (right), now the world’s second-richest person, is charting a different course for his philanthropy than Bill Gates (left), the richest, and Warren Buffett (center), who has fallen to third place. Reuters/Jim Tanner

What Jeff Bezos gets wrong (and right) with his populist philanthropy

Amazon's founder turned to Twitter to crowdsource ideas for his charitable giving. This populist approach and his preference for short-term results set Jeff Bezos apart from other mega-donors.
It can be easier to raise money to aid animals like these African elephants than species that are more threatened with extinction but get humans less excited. www.shutterstock.com

Even ugly animals can win hearts and dollars to save them from extinction

Must the money raised to save wildlife always aid the most popular animals? New research suggests that marketing can persuade donors that northern hairy-nosed wombat lives matter too.
Including different facial expressions in fundraising pitches can change how people respond, research suggests. www.shutterstock.com

Do happy faces or sad faces raise more money?

Seeing cheerful kids in fundraising pitches works better for some potential donors than others, research suggests. Nonprofits may want to tailor their appeals to different audiences because of that.
Fresh Air host Mark Stucky of Newton, Kansas shook hands with Thomas Flowers from Gulfport, Mississippi, as Doris Zerger Stucky – Mark’s mother – watched in this 1960 photo. Mennonite Library & Archives, Bethel, Kansas

The Fresh Air Fund’s complicated racial record

Many urban children who took part in a program that was supposed to enrich their lives dealt with racism instead. Why can't this cultural exchange become a two-way street?
Most of the money Americans give to animal welfare charities helps causes that aid companion animals. www.shutterstock.com

Want to help animals? Don’t forget the chickens

A growing number of animal advocates want Americans to do more to aid animals raised in farms for food, rather than supporting groups that help cats, dogs and other human companions.
Some nonprofits, including the NAACP, can operate different divisions subject to different IRS rules but with the same branding. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Hillary Clinton is starting a social welfare group. What does that mean?

Social welfare groups have become more common – and more controversial – in recent years. Fixing gaps in the oversight of this kind of nonprofit will take bipartisan action.
As journalism loses its financial footing, it may need more support from foundations. Tim Karr/Free Press

Can charity save journalism from market failure?

Big cash infusions can give nonprofit journalism a much-needed boost. But the ailing news industry needs more consistent funding.
Tech billionaire Sean Parker and his wife Alexandra Lenas Parker are among today’s youngest and most ambitious donors. Rich Fury/Invision/AP Photo

Should the giving styles of the rich and famous alarm us all?

In 'The Givers,' author David Callahan warns that today's mega-rich philanthropists wield too much political clout. He may be exaggerating their power and lowballing the public's own strength.
Paul Odihambo shows off a bore well in his village outside of Kisumu, Kenya that a DIY aid group donated. Susan Appe

Will Trump’s cuts inspire more DIY foreign aid?

With steep budget cuts looming, a growing number of tiny volunteer-driven organizations are delivering aid on their own. Will the Trump administration inspire even more small-scale global giving?
If implemented, President Trump’s proposed foreign aid cuts would have many repercussions. Kendra Helmer/USAID

US foreign aid, explained

As President Trump puts U.S. foreign aid on the chopping block, few Americans know much about it. Perhaps even fewer realize that the U.S. lags behind its peers on this front.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are giving billions to charity through their donor-advised fund instead of a traditional foundation. Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

Donor-advised funds: Charities with benefits

As these tax-exempt vehicles transform philanthropy, they’re drawing more scrutiny. Will Congress or the Trump administration tinker with the rules that encouraged their rapid growth?
Women in rural Malawi, outside an AIDS hospital. AIDS was the first of the ‘new’ pandemic threats, after bird flu. Author provided.

How the Trump budget undercuts security risks posed by pandemics

An active outbreak of a type of bird flu in China raises concerns about worldwide pandemics. Ebola and Zika viruses still threaten. Here's why this is not the time to cut funding.

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