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Reshaping the Conversation: How to Rebuild Public Trust in Philanthropy

The refrains are familiar: Foundations dole out pennies to charities yet hoard billions. Donors receive lucrative tax exemptions then sit on the money or use loopholes to spend it on partisan causes. Grant makers reveal little about their operations yet expect grantees to document everything they do. No matter how fair those charges, philanthropy is facing a major trust deficit. Closing the gap will require changes in how donors and foundations operate.

Many options are available: changing how charitable tax exemptions and deductions work; creating stronger regulations on political giving; and developing new ways — possibly including government requirements — to help the public understand where money is going.

To discuss what might work best, we’ll gather experts from diverse perspectives to debate potential solutions to these long-standing issues — and outline where everyone agrees — with the goal of moving from debate to action.