Monthly Notes

Philanthropy Notes: July 2013

Donating to worthy causes is the most satisfying part of life for at least half of the millionaires and billionaires in America, according to a survey by Bank of America subsidiary U.S. Trust. In the study of 711 individuals with a minimum of $3 million in assets apart from their homes, philanthropy “ranked highest for a bigger share of the rich than the possessions and lifestyle that come with wealth.” Almost seven in 10 people aged 18 to 32 said philanthropy was their top pleasure, while only 35 percent of those over 68 felt that way.

Eleven more wealthy families and individuals have signed the Giving Pledge, bringing the number of billionaires undertaking to give away at least half their wealth to charity to 114. The pledge was introduced in 2010 by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. Among the new endorsers are prominent San Francisco philanthropist Tad Taube and Stephen Ross, majority owner of the Miami Dolphins football team.

Warren Buffett’s sister, Doris Buffett, and his grandnephew, Alex Buffett Rozek, are getting help in giving their money away from their online students. The Learning by Giving Foundation’s Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), GivingWithPurpose, is a free online philanthropy course that teaches students how to invest in worthwhile charities and seek grants. After completing the six-class course, students will be able to generate grant proposals, which are then graded by other students and considered by the foundation, reports Nonprofit Quarterly. Warren Buffett himself will address the students along with baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. and other philanthropists.

The typical donor at Fidelity Charitable, America’s largest provider of donor-advised funds, creates a fund at age 54 and makes close to seven grants annually, each worth an average of $3,773, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. Sarah Libbey, president of Fidelity Charitable, with almost $10 billion in assets and 57,000 funds, said the organization compiled the report to give charities the inside scoop on how to solicit donor-advised funds.

The great-grandson of philanthropist and Soviet sympathizer Armand Hammer (1898 – 1990) has made it big in Hollywood. Armie Hammer, 26, has appeared in the 2010 feature film The Social Network and the 2011 film J. Edgar (Hoover). He plays the title character in the upcoming film The Lone Ranger.

The Boy Scouts of America has abandoned its longtime policy of refusing membership to openly gay young people, effective January 2014. The organization’s prohibition on gay adults serving as troop leaders remains intact. “We’re moving forward together,” said Wayne Perry, president of the national Scouts. “Everyone agrees on one thing, no matter how you feel about this issue, kids are better off in scouting.”


According to New York City real estate assessors, since last year the assessed value of Goldman Sachs Group’s headquarters in lower Manhattan has plummeted by $176 million, or 26.7 percent, falling to $511.7 million—the sharpest drop of any office building in Manhattan this year.  The assessed value, typically a fraction of what the building would sell for, is used by city tax officials in calculating an owner’s annual property tax bill. Goldman’s 2 million-square-foot, 43-story tower built four years ago at 200 West Street was not damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  The reduced valuation has more to do with the city changing its assessment calculus, reports.  No doubt Goldman’s payments in lieu of taxes (or PILOT payments) to the Battery Park City Authority will fall as a result of the lowered valuation.

Matthew Vadum

The author of Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers (WND Books, 2011), Vadum, former senior vice president at CRC, writes and speaks widely…
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