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What do you think primarily motivates charitable gestures by the very rich?

1) Generosity: people who are not really aware of income inequality and genuinely feel they are doing good by being charitable.

2) Cynicism: people who are aware they make way more money than the efforts of one person can possibly justify but rather than calling for reform or just paying their employees more they like to keep most of the money for themselves, donating a small portion to charity to boost their image and buy off dissent among the people.

3) Pragmatism: people who aware they make way too much but believe they can't change the system and use their wealth (and the tax deduction) to direct as much money as possible to causes that they champion and (in their eyes) get too little attention from the government.


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    Gail . 50+

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    Sep 26 2012: There is a proven inverse relationship between wealth and charitable contributions.

    I was surprised to learn this, and only did after I did some basic math and went looking for an answer.

    Some years ago, after Ross Perot ruined his chances to become president, he built a community center in Texas, and it seemed to me to be a way to redeem his tarnished reputation. The gift was somewhere around 350 million dollars, which by any account seemed a geneerous gift. There was a lot of fanfare and much media attention. But I, knowing his net worth, did some calculations. His 350 million dollars was the equivalent of my 8 cents, and I certainly give far more than 8 cents to causes that I want to help in.

    You have also neglected some reasons.

    One is guilt. That works for the smaller donors.

    Another is social responsibility.

    But another is social connections and/or upward mobility. When you have enough money, charitable donations are an investment, and those investments pay handsome rewards. You are invited to sit on boards of directors, where you get to mingle with other high-power people (while getting paid large fees). You can leverage your seat on the board for any number of things - from seats on other boards that serve your own financial interests well, to political power hidden by the invisibility cloak of charity.
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      Sep 26 2012: we are on the same page with this

      so my question is, does it matter where the money comes from?

      Should charities turn back money that comes from questionable sources or from exploitation (eg the Nestle Company's notorious exploitation of people and communities in water harvesting or the example I gave above of the college board chairman forced to resign from Barclays in disgrace for fiddling the Libor but carried on by the college because he has been so generous with them)

      If all charities required strict anonymity..no credit for donations, would people still give? At some level aren't most donors buying "prestige" when their name appears in the event program or credits?
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        Sep 26 2012: ok i will answer your first queation" does it matter where the money comes from?"
        that is a good queation
        my answer is yes ...we should know thses people that have donated . they are doing omething good .why not ..this case remind me of a government problem that many government do not open their finatiual system.so we can not inspect.our money may be swolled by the official.isnt it ?
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          Sep 26 2012: thank you chen..I quite agree.

          so what should the policy be of charitable and cultural intsititutions?

          refusing money from known culprits like the Barclays bank guy at Colby?

          Strict anonymity o all sources? ( I don't like that one as it has huge problems with transparency, which as you say is so important in all things)

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