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OT's GONE WILD!

United Way took a lot of heat recently. If you can clear up any misconceptions, please do so.

There’s a part of the United way model that I like. I would rather folks give what they can to an organization that has autonomy to “do the most good” with what they have, and some public accountability for how those funds are used as opposed to raising my taxes and having a government bureaucracy try to divide out the assistance.

Many people would prefer that, but I suspect many of them have no idea how vastly ineffective that would be at providing the level of safety net that we expect as a society (cue “richest society on earth” sayings).

During 2009, while private charity collapsed, automatic stabilizers expanded rapidly, from 0.1 percent of GDP to 2.2 percent of GDP—or a number roughly akin to all charitable giving in the United States. This was directly targeted at areas that suffered from the most unemployment, and helped those most in need—efforts that, as we’ve seen, private charity does only partially. As Goldman Sachs economists concluded, this shift made a crucial difference, and, alongside the government’s efforts to prevent the collapse of the banking sector and the Federal Reserve’s expansion of monetary policy, was a core reason the Great Recession didn’t become a second Great Depression.

With this in mind, we can examine why voluntary efforts fail consistently. Despite the general under-theorizing of the voluntary sector, the scholar Lester Salamon in the 1980s did build a theory of “voluntary failures” to contrast with market and government failures. There are three parts to the theory that especially stand out in the wake of the Great Recession.

The first is what Salamon describes as philanthropic insufficiency . This occurs when the voluntary sector can’t generate enough resources to provide social insurance at a sufficient scale, which, as noted, is exactly what happened in 2008. There is also the problem here of geographic coverage. As Hoover discovered, charity will exist in some places more abundantly than in others; the government has the ability to provide a more universal baseline of coverage.

But it isn’t just about the business cycle. A second issue Salamon identified is philanthropic particularism . Private charity has a tendency to focus only on specific groups, particularly groups that are considered either “deserving” or similar in-groups. Indeed, in one telling, this is the entire point of private charity. The largest single category of charitable giving in the United States goes not to caring for the poor but for the sustenance of religious institutions (at 32 percent of donations). Using very generous assumptions, Indiana University’s Center for Philanthropy finds that only one-third of charitable giving actually goes to the poor. Almost by definition, there will be people who need access to social insurance who will be left out of such targeted giving.

The third element of voluntary failure relevant here is philanthropic paternalism . Instead of charity representing a purely spontaneous response by civil society, or a community of equals responding to issues in the commons, there is, in practice, a disproportionate amount of power that rests in the hands of those with the greatest resources. This narrow control of charitable resources, in turn, channels aid toward the interests and needs of those who already hold large amounts of power. Prime examples of this voluntary failure can be seen in the amount of charitable giving that goes to political advocacy, or to elite colleges in order to help secure admission for already privileged children, even as the needs of the truly desperate go unmet.

At a basic level, much of our elite charitable giving is about status signaling, especially in donations to elite cultural and educational institutions. And much of it is also about political mobilization to pursue objectives favorable to rich elites. As the judge Richard Posner once wrote, a charitable foundation “is a completely irresponsible institution, answerable to nobody” that closely resembles a hereditary monarchy. Why would we put our entire society’s ability to manage the deadly risks we face in the hands of such a creature?

What happens if earmarked donations to UL’s B4B comes in over $5,000? Would UW give all of the earmarked money? Or still only $5,000?

That’s why there needs to be room for both the Gov’t model AND the private model. A blend of the two approaches… Both methods have their drawback, so a blend of the 2 might work best, although that wouldn’t fit the narrative of either side of the political spectrum.

Which is what we have, but I’m curious about what you read in that article that you’re referring to with “That’s why”.

I’ll be honest. Didn’t have time to read the article yet… (atlantic reads are good, but can be lengthy). I was merely reacting to your post that was pointing out the problems with private funded charity efforts… which of course there are.
That’s why I said “That’s why” :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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When you say “UW took a lot of heat” are you referring to United Way Worldwide or a local UW?
The model we have at our UW is quite different from most, however more are shifting to the collective impact model we run. It would take a while to explain, but in essence, we don’t fund individual programs, only partnerships, of which we have 10 that are comprised of more than 300 entities. We provide support in a variety of ways, not the least of which is measurement of progress working toward established goals. We are far from a pass-through, which is what UW was in the past.
I have absolutely no problem with someone giving directly to their favorite nonprofit, but hopefully the donor does some research to make sure their dollars are truly making a difference in their community.

I’m in the “direct donation” camp and have used this site to vet potential recipients:

Charity Navigator

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Didn’t you read my note at the bottom?

Note: If enough people earmark money for a specific charity that the earmarked dollars in total exceed what the United Way intended to give the charity, the UW will make sure that the charity does get the correct total. So your earmarking efforts might not be a total waste

.

Nope. I missed that. Sorry and thanks.

https://public.tableau.com/profile/dallin8725#!/vizhome/CollegeReturnonInvestment_0/CollegeReturnonInvestment

School Rank 20-year ROI 4-year Cost*
Illinois 77 $585,000.00 $118,000.00
Maryland 82 $577,000.00 $99,300.00
Michigan 89 $559,000.00 $110,000.00
Purdue 91 $557,000.00 $92,300.00
Rutgers 101 $542,000.00 $121,000.00
Northwestern 146 $481,000.00 $267,000.00
Minnesota 182 $449,000.00 $104,000.00
Penn State 184 $445,000.00 $139,000.00
Wisconsin 211 $423,000.00 $98,200.00
Michigan State 223 $417,000.00 $103,000.00
Iowa 263 $394,000.00 $84,400.00
Ohio State 290 $374,000.00 $103,000.00
Indiana 306 $368,000.00 $97,600.00
Nebraska 334 $359,000.00 $92,700.00

* For state schools, only in-state tuition considered

Edit add, same list, ordered by expense:

School Rank 20-year ROI 4 year Cost
Northwestern 146 $481,000.00 $267,000.00
Penn State 184 $445,000.00 $139,000.00
Rutgers 101 $542,000.00 $121,000.00
Illinois 77 $585,000.00 $118,000.00
Michigan 89 $559,000.00 $110,000.00
Minnesota 182 $449,000.00 $104,000.00
Michigan State 223 $417,000.00 $103,000.00
Ohio State 290 $374,000.00 $103,000.00
Maryland 82 $577,000.00 $99,300.00
Wisconsin 211 $423,000.00 $98,200.00
Indiana 306 $368,000.00 $97,600.00
Nebraska 334 $359,000.00 $92,700.00
Purdue 91 $557,000.00 $92,300.00
Iowa 263 $394,000.00 $84,400.00

Somewhat disturbing that PSU has the highest in-state four-year cost of all the public Big 10 schools, much higher than Maryland.

https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/ryan-gunderson-washington-generals-harlem-globetrotters-stories

Ryan Gunderson played for St. Francis (IL).

Big news here! :wink:

The Illinios cost relative to PSU surprises me some. I know that back in the 80’s when my Brother (a PA resident) and he future bride (An IL resident) were attending U of I the gap in cost was HUGE. Out of state U of I was about what in-state PSU cost at the time.

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Doesn’t mean he and [Coach Billy] Cunningham always saw eye to eye, though. Late in his career, Jones recalled Thursday, an out-of-position referee asked him during a game if he had touched a ball before it went out of bounds, one more indication of the manner in which Bobby, a man of great integrity, was viewed throughout the league.

He said he did not.

“And,” he added, “I had not touched it.”

The referee ruled accordingly.

A similar situation arose again two weeks later. This time a ball went out off Jones, and again the official hadn’t seen exactly what happened. One problem: The ball wound up in the hands of Cunningham, in front of the Sixers’ bench.

“The official comes up to me and says, ‘Did you touch it?’ ” Jones said.

Once again, Jones told the truth.

“I immediately started running away,” he said with a laugh, “because Billy starts stomping his feet and saying, ‘Bobby, that’s his job. Let him make the call.’ ”

Passing along simply for the prominence of the story, nothing particularly interesting in it beyond the fact in the headline and its obvious implications, IMO:

Please, Sir! May I have some more?

Gary Larson’s THE FAR SIDE Cartoon Coming Back
The Nerdist
by Michael Walsh
Sep 16 2019 • 10:06 AM

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