The True Cost of Billionaire Philanthropy
16 November 2023
The news is full of stories about billionaires giving huge gifts to charity. Yet for all but the most generous, their giving is nowhere close to keeping up with the growth in their wealth. While some are making an earnest effort to give back, others appear to be using charity to enhance their public image, their political voice, and even the protection of their assets. The billionaires who have taken the Giving Pledge — a promise to give away half of their wealth during their lifetimes or in their wills — offer examples of all of this. This report shows findings on the pitfalls of top-heavy giving — and what to do about them. Giving Pledgers promised to give their wealth away. As a group, they’re wealthier now than when they made the pledge. These high-end donors increasingly give to intermediaries rather than working charities. Some billionaires are blending their charitable giving with for-profit investment. High-end philanthropy is subsidized by regular taxpayers.