Trump Wants to Shut Down His Charity Foundation, But Can’t Due to Ongoing Investigation

Trump Wants to Shut Down His Charity Foundation, But Can’t Due to Ongoing Investigation

Nov 21

In December 2016, Donald Trump promised to terminate his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, in order to avoid any possible conflicts of interest during his presidency. In an effort to make good on that promise, the Foundation announced its intent to shut down in a 2016 IRS document that was submitted this month. There’s just one problem: the Donald J. Trump Foundation is currently under investigation, and the New York Attorney General’s Office isn’t going to let the Foundation dissolve until that investigation concludes. “As the Foundation is still under investigation by this office, it cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” said Amy Spitalnick, the attorney general’s press secretary. In October 2016, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered the Donald J. Trump Foundation to stop soliciting donations following a report that it lacked the proper authorization to do so. An investigation was launched after the Foundation admitted to having violated federal laws on “self-dealing” in its 2015 tax filing. These laws forbid nonprofit leaders from diverting charity funds to themselves, their businesses, or families. A spokesperson for the Foundation confirmed that it is currently under investigation, but maintained that the organization is cooperating with officials: “The Foundation continues to cooperate with the New York Attorney General’s Charities Division, and as previously announced by the President, his advisers are working with the Charities Division to wind up the affairs of the Foundation. The Foundation looks forward to distributing its remaining assets at the earliest possible time to aid numerous worthy charitable organizations.” There is still no word on when the investigation is expected to conclude. When it does, the Donald J. Trump Foundation will distribute its remaining funds to other charitable organizations. The Foundation reported assets of about $970,000 at the end of 2016. Representatives from the Foundation have yet announce which charities will receive the...

A Tribute to Eliza Hamilton, Whose Charitable Legacy Will Not Be Forgotten

A Tribute to Eliza Hamilton, Whose Charitable Legacy Will Not Be Forgotten

Nov 16

“And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?” There were always tears in the audience when Phillipa Soo sang that line near the end of the Broadway musical Hamilton. Soo was playing the role of Eliza Hamilton, who spent a lifetime trying to fulfill her husband Alexander Hamilton’s curtailed legacy. Eliza, who barely gets a footnote in the history books compared to her founding father husband, was a force of philanthropy. The ripples of her work can still be felt today. Eliza Schuyler Hamilton founded Graham Windham as an orphanage in 1806, and the organization is still alive today, over a century later as a family and youth services organization. They serve over 4,000 children a year, providing foster care, counseling for at-risk families, and a therapeutic school. Soo, together with Hamilton‘s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, couldn’t resist linking their show to Eliza’s legacy. Soo initiated The Eliza Project, a scholarship program to provide Graham Windham students with workshops in acting, dancing, and rap. Hamilton‘s assistant dance captain, Morgan Marcell, recruited many cast members to participate in “Share Your Stories,” his pen-pal initiative between artists and Graham students. The goal is to encourage students to take “authorship over their own lives.” Members of the Hamilton cast and crew were also instrumental in connecting Graham Windham with Broadway Cares, a grant-making program which provides funding to projects for underserved communities. Broadway Cares was responsible for funding most of the above-mentioned projects. While Eliza Hamilton’s achievements were her own, it cannot be doubted that it is the flame Hamilton re-lit for her that is responsible for the Smithsonian placing her portrait in the collection of the National Museum of American History’s new philanthropy collection. Before it goes to its permanent home there, the portrait, which is in fact donated by Graham Windham, will be displayed beside Miranda’s green silk suit from his role as Hamilton in his own Broadway production. *Photo credit: EQRoy /...

Bill Gates is Putting $100 Million Towards Finding a Cure for Alzheimer’s

Bill Gates is Putting $100 Million Towards Finding a Cure for Alzheimer’s

Nov 15

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, with symptoms that range from mild short-term memory loss to being unable to manage basic self-care functions or remember one’s own life. It is incurable, and affects more than 1 in 20 people over the age of 65, worldwide. Bill Gates, billionaire and philanthropist, says that the disease is common in his family. As he turned 62 this year, thoughts of Alzheimer’s may be pressing in on him. But even if he weren’t personally at risk, medical research is a cause he’s supported before. Gates will be donating $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a fund to support industry and government research into treatments for the disease. This will be a personal donation, not made via Gates’ Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “It’s a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy—even for the people who stay alive—is very high,” Gates said. It is arguably the most expensive disease in the developed world, with most affected needing round-the-clock care for years in their decline. The Dementia Discovery Fund includes drugmakers like GlaxoSmithKine, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Biogen Idec, and the government of the United Kingdom. In addition to the initial donation, Gates has pledged $50 million to medical startups that are pursuing “less mainstream” approaches to the disease. He has not yet identified any of these startups. He expects progress to be slow, predicting it to take 10 years or more before solid treatments are developed from his donations. He wants focus to be extended in five areas: disease progression, early diagnoses, multiple approach treatments, protocols around clinical trials involving those with dementia, and collaborating on medical research between for-profit companies. The effects of his generosity will likely outlive him, but rest assured, the impact of his donations will never be forgotten. *Photo courtesy of OnInnovation via Flickr Creative...

Billionaire Tom Steyer Gives $2.3 Million to Pro-Immigration Orgs

Billionaire Tom Steyer Gives $2.3 Million to Pro-Immigration Orgs

Nov 10

An individual arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is in a particularly vulnerable position in United States law. To begin with, they have no right to counsel. So while as many as 20% may have mitigating circumstances that make their case to remain valid, most have no access at all to legal advice on the matter. But that’s why organizations like University of California Immigrant Legal Service Center exist. The UC Center is the first and only university system to provide free legal advice to undocumented immigrants and their families. It’s not abstract to the University of California; approximately 4,000 UC students are undocumented immigrants, many of them residents of California since infancy. “From increased ICE raids to the repeal of DACA to the Muslim travel ban, Donald Trump and his administration are systematically attacking the immigrant community,” said billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer. “Many live in fear that at any moment they will be ripped away from their family with no one in their corner to defend them. Our partnership with the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center will allow more students and their families, in California and across the nation, to seek the legal guidance they not only need but have a fundamental right to receive.” Tom Steyer is a mega-donor with a history of environment and social wallet-activism, and the partnership to which he is referring is the $2.3 million donation his nonprofit, NextGen America, is making to the UC Center and seven other immigrant aid organizations. His gift will allow the UC Center to hire full-time immigration attorneys, reducing their reliance on donated time from lawyers working elsewhere. The other seven organizations to benefit from the massive donation are UC Davis School of Law’s Immigration Law Clinic, UC Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Asian Americans Advancing Justice: Asian Law Caucus, the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, the Center for Community Change, the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. and the Council on American-Islamic...

Family Foundations Help Philanthropists Share and Save Their Wealth

Family Foundations Help Philanthropists Share and Save Their Wealth

Oct 27

George Soros, famous (or infamous, depending on which side of the political spectrum your beliefs lie) for donating to liberal causes and Democratic candidates, has transferred $18 billion of his vast wealth into his Open Society Foundations. The transfer immediately dropped him out of the ranks of the 50 richest Americans and catapulted his foundation to the second largest in the U.S. by assets, just behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Although reports framed the donation as a sudden gift, Soros’ transfer of wealth to his family foundation has been going on for a while. “It’s an ongoing process of migration from a hedge fund toward a pool of capital deployed to support a foundation over the long term,” said Bill E. Ford, CEO of private equity firm General Atlantic, in a Wall Street Journal article. It was a brilliant move because family foundations, also known as private foundations, can be extremely effective philanthropic vehicles when created by savvy individuals like Soros. There are three very strong motivators behind most family foundations: Caring, legacy, and permanence. And of course, there are the tax advantages. At its core, philanthropy is about caring, and family foundations are a great way to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. Soros’ worldview, formed by growing up in Hungary during the Nazi occupation and later under communism, is a very strong motivator behind how he has chosen to distribute his wealth. Family foundations are also great tools for leaving a legacy. They help to get the family involved in charitable giving, training them to become wise philanthropists. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” as the old saying goes. And according to research, nearly 70 percent of inheritors of huge fortunes will become more involved in evaluating the impact and results of their giving. One of the most appealing things about family foundations is that they last long past the original donor’s death. That allows the wealthy founders to ensure that the institutions and causes important to them will be funded in perpetuity. It would be foolish to believe that idealism is the only factor at work in the creation of family foundations. They also bring substantial tax benefits, both to the donor and their descendants. Giving to a family foundation can reduce a donor’s income tax for each year in which they make a donation to that foundation,...