The tenuous place of Big Philanthropy in America’s social contract

Dec 6, 2023

Is there a “Charity, Inc.” and if so, what could perhaps be done about it?

This article originally appeared in American AffairsVolume VII, Number 4 (Winter 2023) and online on November 20, 2023.


The power of big corporations and other large private interests has attracted more attention from within a conservatism that’s refining or redefining itself, occasionally contentiously. For example, Compact magazine cofounder and editor Sohrab Ahmari explores private tyranny and countervailing power in his new book Tyranny, Inc.: How Private Power Crushed American Liberty—and What to Do about It. The book offers “a grand tour of our system, making stops at the workplace, the employment contract, the courtroom, the investment fund, the retirement system, the newsroom, and the bankruptcy process,” as Ahmari describes it. “At each stop, we will see how a failure to subject the market to political control and democratic give-and-take has imperiled the livelihoods of millions of ordinary Americans while damaging our economy and the common good.”

Ahmari also acknowledges that his tour “isn’t comprehensive by any means.”(1) Here’s what could and should be another stop on it: big, private philanthropy.

Different from the private-company behavior that Ahmari covers, supposedly charitable philanthropy in America is tax-incentivized and has always occupied a nebulous position in the American polity—neither fully public nor pristinely private in its legal structure or self-understanding, much less among the citizenry. As my Giving Review coeditor William A. Schambra told the Council on Foundations in 2013, “our social-contract roots forever privilege the individual, on the one hand, and the state, on the other, which is why institutions in between, like foundations, seem to have a somewhat tenuous legal and constitutional status.”(2) In fact, philanthropy was the subject of much political debate over its proper role during and for some decades after its beginnings in the Gilded Age.

Policy-oriented philanthropy, in particular, is large and getting larg­er, overwhelmingly progressive, and increasingly politicized. It does not currently get much attention from populist conservatives, but it soon may—and should—get more. This sort of philanthropy does receive some criticism from populist progressives, usually for its antidemocratic nature.

Big philanthropy is not subject to any serious “countervailing power” from other market participants. Philanthropic foundations are not part of a market, after all; they’re a creature of the tax code. Their power hasn’t been subject to any real democratic counterpressure from policymakers, either, since the time of the 1969 Tax Reform Act.

The ’69 Act forms the basic legal structure under which the nonprofit sector overall and the philanthropic component within it still function. “This legislation should be understood as a Grand Bargain that enabled elite philanthropy to reassure the public that their purported altruism would indeed benefit ordinary Americans,” according to law professors Dana Brakman Reiser and Steven A. Dean in their 2023 book For-Profit Philanthropy: Elite Power and the Threat of Limited Liability Companies, Donor-Advised Funds, and Strategic Corporate Giving.(3) The law requires foundations to satisfy requirements, which Brakman Reiser and Dean categorize in terms of the targeting, timing, and transparency of foundation grantmaking.

At this point, however, any attempt to even examine whether capital-owning (and preserving) establishment philanthropy is adhering to that “Grand Bargain”—perhaps particularly its prohibition of tax-incentiv­ized charitable dollars targeted at aiding a political candidate or group of candidates—would be considered a violation of “donor freedom,” including by those seen to speak for conservative philanthropy. In fact, for many conservatives, any incipient populist reaction against Big Philanthropy would likely be derided—as are the suggested solutions of Ahmari and his populist-conservative fellow travelers in other contexts—as “statist.” Maybe not as bad as communist, but bad enough.

Nevertheless, the question remains: should “Charity, Inc.” be sub­jected to any countervailing power? Big Philanthropy’s tenuous place in the social contract, and the fraying of the Grand Bargain that structures philanthropy, may actually make Ahmari’s call for countervailing power more applicable to philanthropy than to for-profit entities in many cases, and easier to pursue.

Coercion and power imbalances

Tyranny, Inc. interrogates the issue of “coercion”—“a common term freighted with great stigma in liberal societies,” Ahmari notes—in the context of corporate behavior. Ahmari challenges the conservative claim that “the market, by its very nature, is free from such coercion. Because there are a multitude of competing buyers and sellers in any given market, the thinking goes, no one of them can bully others. Everyone is free to walk away and find a better deal elsewhere.” Citing Milton Friedman, Ahmari summarizes what he calls the “dogma”:

market exchange is free from coercion and, indeed, offers the only true alternative to it. . . . Precisely because Americans treat coercion as an aberration, a four-letter word, we fail to notice the coercion that envelops us in the course of our routine economic activities. . . . When we notice the prevalence of economic coer­cion, we are suddenly confronted with the shocking power imbalance between asset owners and everyone else. . . . The Fried­mans of the world would treat this extreme imbalance in coercive power as a passing phase, a problem that would soon be corrected by more competition. But given its enduring hold on our labor market and on-the-job conditions, I think there is a case for calling it tyranny.(4)

Like the market actors of abstract theory, philanthropy is not coercive per se. No one forces anyone to accept a grant. It’s a gift. You’re free to take it, or not. In fact, you’re really no worse off for declining it. If you don’t like a grantor’s conditions, moreover, walk away and apply to another foundation. But philanthropy’s proximity to coercive power and the power imbalances at play complicate this argu­ment.

The taxation from which private foundations are exempt—the large pool of funds from which the incentive of exemption is drawn—is collected by and with the power of the state. Everyone is expected—required—to pay those taxes, albeit with all of the limits and deductions and credits and workarounds that have been placed on the system over centuries. While philanthropy itself may not be as culpably coercive as those companies featured on Ahmari’s tour, the benefit of tax exemption that government has given to foundations comes from tax funds coer­cively collected from us all through the state. When the conditions that philanthropy is supposed to meet in return, as per the Grand Bargain’s terms, are flouted, philanthropy effectively uses the state’s coercive power for private benefit.

Moreover, like many large private corporations, establishment pri­vate philanthropy in America does evidence a “power imbalance between asset owners and everyone else,” sometimes approaching bully­ing. It can and does act with varying degrees of heavy-handedness, but almost always with hands that hold more resources than others, often a lot. It acts heavy-handedly with would-be grantees, as well as toward those lucky or already well-positioned enough to be existing grantees. In the context of policy and advocacy-oriented philanthropy, its aim is to influence government policy, often alongside or closely adjacent to outright political giving to candidates or groups of candidates.

Philanthropic heavy-handedness with existing or would-be charitable grantees can be seen in the overbearing volume and nature of the grant-application and grant-report processes. Nonprofit official and blogger Vu Le catalogues some of these information requests in his humorous Unicorns on Fire: A Collection of Nonprofit AF Blog Posts Finally Edited for Spelling and Grammar: “How are you working on systems change?” “How will your organization align with [so-and-so latest innovative systems-change effort]?” (Brackets in original.) “What is innovative about your program design?” “What are the unanticipated outcomes associated with this program?” “How is this program evidence-based?” “What is your overhead rate?” “If your budget is more than 50% staffing-related costs, please explain why.” “If you receive a partial grant, will you still implement this program?” “What is your plan for growth? How will you scale this program?” “How does your organization partner with other organizations in this area?”(5)

In response to one final question on the list—“What feedback do you have for our grantmaking process?”—he provides a hypothetical, but honest, answer:

It took us 30 hours to finish this proposal, including chasing down the board chair for her signature, which you needed for some bizarre reason. With over 200 organizations applying, and only 10 being funded, you are wasting about 5,000 hours of people’s time across the sector and probably driving dozens of people to leave the field and move into real estate. Just accept proposals we wrote for other foundations. It’s the exact same information. We have more important things to do. Just send money so we can do those things.(6)

Similarly, Schambra told a Hewlett Foundation audience in 2013, “the next time the Northside Neighborhood Center comes in for a grant, don’t give them a lecture about needing to come up with a logic model to justify what you know they’ve been doing quite well for years. Just write the damned check.”(7)

The logic model Schambra cheerfully but cheekily laments, along with Nonprofit AF’s list of obtuse questions, reflects the “top-down” nature of—and the power imbalance in—philanthropy. In its overbearing confidence, establishment philanthropy actually risks distorting the Tocquevillian civil society it so often cites in justifying its privileged status. In the application—or imposition—ofits own elite-sanctioned scientific and technocratic methods, it can and does skew how mediating nonprofits operate and saps their ability to benefit the community. While an aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville was not a technocrat.

Nonprofit grant recipients much prefer support for their “general operations,” of course—which allows them more freedom with the funds, but requires a level of trust on the part of the funder in the nonprofit and its leadership that is apparently too risky for an increasing number of foundations to exhibit. In the nonprofit sector writ large, there are anti-elite movements for “trust-based philanthropy” and “participatory philanthropy.” Generally, they each urge for more trust in grant recipients, forms of which can be common grant-application forms and more general-operations support.(8) They argue for more power on the part of recipient groups and those whom they serve, including people who aren’t foundation officials—on a range up to and including, in the case of some participatory-philanthropy proponents, actual decision-making roles on the part of those non-foundation officials about foundation grant awards.(9)

But there is another notable and perhaps even more significant imbalance in philanthropy, relevant to those who track and maybe even try to exercise power. While there is an unavoidable subjectivity in categorizing anything ideologically—especially given the current, on­going debates within conservatism—it is fair to characterize establishment philanthropy in America as overwhelmingly liberal and progressive. In fact, the more establishment, probably the more progressive.

Of those private foundations in the FoundationMark 15, a selection of the largest and best-known private foundations in the United States,(10) none can plausibly be labeled conservative in its grantmaking overall, though the Walton Family Foundation has substantially supported school choice. During the 2019–20 election cycle, according to an analysis by my Capital Research Center (CRC) colleagues Kristen Eastlick and Jonathan McGee, 97 percent of reported political contributions by employees of the FoundationMark 15 went to Democratic candidates or committees.(11) In 2017–18, according to a study by CRC’s Shane Devine and Michael Watson, liberal policy and advocacy-orient­ed public charities received about four times more tax-incentivized money than conservative ones.(12)

Countervailing power in the twentieth century

“‘Countervailing power’ is a common term on the labor left,” Ahmari writes. “But we owe the concept to [economist and diplomat John Kenneth] Galbraith, a figure who eluded easy ideological cate­gorization but was certainly no leftist. He was, above all, a realist . . . .” In his 1952 book on American capitalism and countervailing power, Ahmari writes, Galbraith “wasn’t so much advocating for some new economic ideology as he was describing trends that were already unfolding in the U.S. economy in the aftermath of the New Deal.”

Then as now, many industries were “lorded over by a very few firms that exercised a great deal of power to determine the prices they charged for their products and paid their suppliers and employees,” Ahmari continues. “But there was another way, as the New Deal had shown. The counterpressure would be exerted . . . ‘not with competitors but with customers or suppliers,’” Ahmari writes, quoting Galbraith.

The labor market “presented the best example of how one group of people (sellers of labor power) could push back against the unjust power” being exercised over them—through, in that context, labor unions. To that end, New Dealers enacted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act.(13) Ahmari’s sympathetic treatment of the NLRA, with its encouragement of unionization and collective bargaining, and his hankering to keep helping Big Labor now, is certainly controversial among conservatives.

Whatever one thinks about labor unions, however, in the context of policy-oriented charitable philanthropy, there is really no market com­petition among foundations of differing ideologies at the highest, largest asset levels. Establishment philanthropy is a progressive monoculture “lorded over by a very few firms that exercise a great deal of power,” to use Ahmari’s language. For any counterpressure against Big Philanthropy, there is really no equivalent of unions, either—whether as the coercive political operations they actually are or the units of civil society some hope for them to be.

There is the state, though—with which Big Philanthropy struck the Grand Bargain for its beneficial tax status. The state can and should consider applying countervailing pressure in some way, again. There’s actually a long history of state interest in what foundations do with their tax-preferred dollars. Before the 1969 Tax Reform Act, as Schambra noted to the Council on Foundations, “The Walsh Commission early in the twentieth century, the Cox and Reese congressional investigations of the ’50s, and Wright Patman’s probes in the ’60s were all triggered by foundations seemingly wandering too far into overtly political territory.”(14)

The Walsh Commission was the Commission on Industrial Relations, created by Congress in 1912 to examine U.S. labor law. Named for its chairman, progressive Kansas City labor lawyer and activist Frank P. Walsh, it spent much of its time and energy looking at income inequality in the country, including figures like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. Effectively, it began dec­ades’ worth of “negotia­tions,” culminating in the bargain that the American government struck with the megarich who wanted to do tax-advantaged philanthropy. The course of these negotiations has been well‑documented in scholarly literature.

At the beginning of these negotiations in the Gilded Age, Rockefeller and Carnegie were not popular, because of how they generated their wealth and what they represented to those with less. Under heavy criticism and wishing to avoid further controversy, Rockefeller with­drew his 1910 request for a federal charter for his new big philanthropy—after which he sought and, in 1913, obtained a charter from the state of New York instead.

Walsh wrote in 1915 that “huge philanthropic trusts, known as foundations, appear to be a menace to the welfare of society.”(15) In 1916, a Walsh Commission report recommended that multipurpose foundations with assets exceeding $1 million be chartered federally, with limitations on their size and duration.

Thirty-five years later, in 1952, Representative Eugene E. Cox, a Georgia Democrat, introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to conduct an investigation of tax-exempt private philanthropy, including grantmaking foundations.(16) It passed, creating the House Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations. Cox died in December 1952, however, before the committee issued its report. It did so in January 1953, but the fifteen-page product was widely considered to be unimpressive and shallow, given Cox’s death and too short a time period to complete the necessary work.

The November 1952 elections, which saw General Dwight D. Eisenhower elected president, had also shifted party control of the next Congress from Democrats to Republicans. In 1953—referring to the work of the Cox Committee as “unfinished business”—Tennessee Republican representative B. Carroll Reece introduced a resolution to basically start over and conduct a new, more thorough investigation. It passed, and the committee released its findings in 1954.

The Reece Committee’s “main contribution was to expose instances in which the promotion of political ends, favored perhaps by foundation managers, had been disguised as charitable or educational activity,” according to its general counsel René A. Wormser’s 1958 book Foundations: Their Power and Influence. “Political activity of this kind endangers the future of the foundation as an institution. The often stormy hearings of the Reece Committee stimulated a widespread reexamination of the goals and methods of the major foundations,” Wormser continues. “In the resulting public discussion, even some of the most stalwart supporters of the criticized foundations were obliged to admit certain deficiencies; indeed some major changes in personnel and in operating principles ensued.”(17)

As part of that reexamination, beginning in 1955—when Democrats regained control of Congress—the House Select Committee on Small Business investigated tax-exempt, charitable foundations. Chaired by crusading New Deal Democrat Wright Patman of Texas, it was and is known as the Patman Committee. “Down in Houston,” the populist Patman once said, “there are some neighborhoods so rich that every flea has his own dog. The Rockefellers are like that. Every one of them has his own foundation.”(18)

The Patman Committee issued a report in two lengthy installments in late 1962 and 1963. Warning of “possible exploitation of the people’s respect and admiration for charitable acts and gifts,” it aggressively recommended a moratorium on the granting of tax exemption for foundations.(19)

The 1969 Tax Reform Act’s Grand Bargain followed continued congressional interest in and investigation of philanthropy, including by the House Ways and Means Committee. To some, the ’69 Act “seems an aberrant spasm of Congressional anger at foundations, generated by the unfortunate acts of a handful of individuals and organizations,” principally including McGeorge Bundy and the Ford Foundation, of which he was president. “In the main, however, it was not a Congressional bolt from the blue,” observes longtime nonprofit tax lawyer Thomas A. Troyer in his “The 1969 Private Foundation Law: Historical Perspective on Its Origins and Underpinnings.” “The con­cerns of Congress at which the law struck had roots reaching back for more than two decades,” notes Troyer, who himself thought the ’69 Act an unjustified overreaction to narrow abuses.(20)

According to historian Karen Ferguson in Top Down: The Ford Foundation, Black Power, and the Reinvention of Racial Liberalism, the Act’s “‘McGeorge Bundy’ amendments—as they were called after his defiant performance in front of the House Ways and Means Committee caused him to be blamed for pushing its members over the brink in their quest to shut down liberal foundations’ activism—put strict new con­trols on philanthropies’ political involvement.”(21) It is worth noting that both houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats when the law passed; it was signed into law by Republican president Richard Nixon.

These controls on direct political giving are a large part of what Brakman Reiser and Dean place in the “targeting” category of requirements on tax-incentivized foundations in For-Profit Philanthropy (their other two categories, recall, are timing and transparency).(22) Specifically, the ’69 law makes it a “taxable expenditure” for any private foundation to pay or incur any amount “to influence the outcome of any specific public election, or to carry on, directly or indirectly, any voter registration drive”—though excepted from this definition, among other things, is “any amount paid or incurred by any organization . . . the activities of which are nonpartisan, are not confined to one specific election period, and are carried on in 5 or more States. . . .”(23)

“In recent years, private foundations had become increasingly active in political and legislative activities. In several instances called to Congress’ attention, funds were spent in ways clearly designed to favor certain candidates,” according to the General Explanation of the Tax Reform Act of 1969, prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation. “In some cases, this was done by financing registration campaigns in certain areas. In other cases contributions were made to organizations that then used the money to publicize the views, personalities, and activities of certain candidates.”(24)

Countervailing power today

Some see similarly questionable charitable support of candidates or groups of candidates today, including through the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) and the nonprofit Voter Registration Project (VRP), among others. Funded by left-of-center philanthropy, CTCL provides support to state and local election administration enti­ties. VRP, also known as Everybody Votes, is a voter-registration and mobilization effort that is also funded by left-of-center philanthropy.(25) Renewed congressional interest in and investigation of philanthropy has already begun, asking questions about this type of support. In 2023, House Ways and Means began investigating the political activity and foreign sources of funding of nonprofit groups.

The Ways and Means Committee chairman, Representative Jason Smith of Missouri, and the chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight, Representative David Schweikert of Arizona, issued an open letter requesting information and input on existing rules and regulations governing nonprofit political activity and foreign funding. They also asked what, if any, policy changes Congress should consider. “Public reporting has raised questions about whether tax-exempt sectors are operating in a manner consistent with the laws and regulations that govern such organizations and whether foreign funds are flowing through these organizations to influence American politics,” according to the letter.(26) “The expansion of politics into almost all aspects of life means that activities that were previously considered nonpartisan have been made partisan—legislation and regulation have not kept up,” the letter continues. “Congress may need to consider closing growing loop­holes that allow the use of tax-exempt status to influence American elections.”(27)

More broadly, and cross-ideologically, congressional committees should also consider: philanthropy’s effects on wealth inequality, social justice, and democracy; the effects of the neoliberal “financialization” of philanthropy, including through charitable donor-advised funds that can yield investment gains (and fees for investment managers(28)) for years before any money is actually donated to a working charity; and, relatedly, philanthropic endowment assets and their taxation.

As for some specific policy reforms—or merely modest clarifications—in the targeting category, tax benefits could be denied for charita­ble assets used to conduct any voter registration, for instance. In the timing category, tax benefits could be denied for assets unless and until they’re donated to charity. And in the transparency category, tax benefits could be denied for dollars given by one entity normally required to disclose its donations to a second that isn’t, for the creative but legal purpose of the second entity giving the money to yet a third entity without disclosure.(29)

Give and take

“We must restore a political give-and-take in relations between the asset rich and the asset-less,” argues Ahmari in Tyranny, Inc.:

Whether we call this arrangement by its twentieth-century names—social democracy or socially managed capitalism, or some­thing else—what matters are the underlying principles: the recog­nition that a decent society should strive to ameliorate the effects of coercion, not least by empowering the coerced to mount coun­tervailing power in response. This is a more ambitious agenda than even many progressives are prepared to contemplate.(30)

The intent of the twentieth-century Grand Bargain about what philanthropy owes in return for the benefit it gets from the pool of coercively collected taxes is increasingly being frustrated in practice. Its statutory terms are either violated outright or professionally skirted or ignored, in various ways, with the high-priced guidance of those able to navigate regulations and financialization.

Along with Ahmari’s corporate “Tyranny, Inc.,” there is a tax-incentivized “Charity, Inc.” The state’s historical, anti-elite interest in what Charity Inc. does with its tax-favored private dollars should be revived. Big Philanthropy should be further examined, analyzed, and, if necessary, ambitiously reformed by the state, with which it negotiated the bargain that structures it. Big Philanthropy’s free, private “to’ing” should be subject to more aggressive political “fro’ing.”

Even the new, relatively circumscribed Ways and Means investigation succeeded in “drawing the ire of charity experts and professionals across the ideological spectrum,” as the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Alex Daniels reports.(31) Yet that ire did not awaken—or at least has not yet awakened—any consciousness of philanthropy’s tenuous position in the social contract. As Schambra told the Council on Foundations a little more than a decade ago, “Whenever foundations in the past have forgotten their tenuous status in the American political order, the political sovereign was quick to remind them of it.”(32)


Sohrab Ahmari, Tyranny, Inc.: How Private Power Crushed American Liberty—and What to Do about It (New York: Forum Books, 2023), xxiv.

William A. Schambra, “Foundations, Government, and the (Still-)Fraying Social Contract,” Giving Review, June 26, 2023 (remarks to a panel session at the Council on Foundations annual conference, April 9, 2013). See also William A. Schambra, “Revisiting a One-Sided Social Compact,” Giving Review, October 8, 2021.

Dana Brakman Reiser and Steven A. Dean, For-Profit Philanthropy: Elite Power and the Threat of Limited Liability Companies, Donor-Advised Funds, and Strategic Corporate Giving (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023), 2; see Michael E. Hartmann, “Big Philanthropy and the Benefits—and Limits—of the Bygone ‘Grand Bargain,’” American Affairs, December 12, 2022 (a review of For-Profit Philanthropy).

Ahmari, Tyranny, Inc., 9–10, 13–14.

Vu Le, Unicorns on Fire: A Collection of Nonprofit AF Blog Posts Finally Edited for Spelling and Grammar (Seattle: Nonprofit AF, 2023), 117–28.

Le, Unicorns on Fire, 128.

William A. Schambra, “The Problem of Strategic Philanthropy (According to Bill Schambra),” Nonprofit Quarterly, August 12, 2013.

See, generally, “Practices,” Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, accessed October 12, 2023.

See, generally, Cynthia Gibson, “Participatory Grantmaking: Has Its Time Come?,” Participatory Grantmaking in Philanthropy: How Democratizing Decision-Making Shifts Power to Communities, eds. Cynthia M. Gibson et al. (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2023). Participatory Grantmaking in Philanthropy contains a chapter by William A. Schambra and the author of this article, “A Conservative Perspective on Participatory Philanthropy.”

10 The FoundationMark 15 are the Gates Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, the Ford Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Bloomberg Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the Moore Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Hilton Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

11 Kristen Eastlick, “97% of Political Contributions by Employees of Top Foundations Went to Democrats in 2019–20,” Giving Review, August 8, 2022.

12 Shane Devine and Michael Watson, Political and Policy-Oriented Giving After Citizens United: An Update to CRC’s 2017 Analysis, Capital Research Center, December 2020.

13 Ahmari, Tyranny, Inc., 153–54.

14 Schambra, “Foundations, Government, and the (Still-)Fraying Social Contract.”

15 Frank P. Walsh, “Perilous Philanthropy,” Independent 83 (July 5, 1915): 262–64; quoted in Brakman Reiser and Dean, For-Profit Philanthropy, 116.

16 Content herein on the Cox, Reece, and Patman Committees is included in Michael E. Hartmann, “Leaders of Aggressive Congressional Investigations of Philanthropy—Past, and Potential Future?,” Giving Review, February 22, 2022.

17 René A. Wormser, Foundations: Their Power and Influence (New York: Devin-Adair, 1958; repr. Dauphin Publications, 2014), xiv–xv.

18 Quoted in James Allen Smith, “From Populist Crusade to Comprehensive Regulation: The 1969 Tax Reform Act,” RE:source (Rockefeller Archive Center), December 20, 2019.

19 Quoted in “From the Archives, an Excerpt of John E. Riecker’s ‘Foundations and the Patman Committee Report,’” Giving Review, February 17, 2022.

20 Thomas A. Troyer, “The 1969 Private Foundation Law: Historical Perspective on Its Origins and Underpinnings,” New York University School of Law, November 29, 1999, 2; quoted in Michael E. Hartmann, “The Ford Foundation, the 1967 Cleveland Mayoral Election, and the 1969 Tax Reform Act,” Giving Review, February 3, 2021, from which content herein on the ’69 Act is drawn.

21 Karen Ferguson, Top Down: The Ford Foundation, Black Power, and the Reinvention of Racial Liberalism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013); quoted in Hartmann, “The Ford Foundation, the 1967 Cleveland Mayoral Election, and the 1969 Tax Reform Act.”

22 Regarding all of the nonprofit tax provisions of the ’69 Act more generally, see, e.g., Brakman Reiser and Dean, For-Profit Philanthropy; Philip Hackney, “The 1969 Tax Reform Act and Charities: Fifty Years Later,” Pittsburgh Tax Review 17, no. 2 (2020): 235–46; Smith, “From Populist Crusade to Comprehensive Regulation.”

23 26 U.S. Code § 4945(d)(2), (f)(2).

24 Staff of the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation, General Explanation of the Tax Reform Act of 1969, December 3, 1970.

25 See, e.g., Parker Thayer, “How Charities Secretly Help Win Elections,” Capital Research Center, August 15, 2023.

26 Jason Smith and David Schweikert, “Request for Information: Understanding and Examining the Political Activities of Tax- Exempt Organizations under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code,” U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, August 14, 2023, 1.

27 Smith and Schweikert, “Request for Information,” 7; See “A Selection of Quotes about Nonprofit Law’s Distinction between Charity and Politics,” Giving Review, April 26, 2022.

28 See, e.g., Chuck Collins, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2021); Michael Mechanic, Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live—and How Their Wealth Harms Us All (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2021).

29 See “An Again-Updated Collection of Various Recent Ideas to Reform Philanthropy,” Giving Review, October 17, 2022.

30 Ahmari, Tyranny, Inc., 178–79.

31 Alex Daniels, “The House GOP Wants to Probe Nonprofits. Both Left and Right Have Pushed Back,” Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 20, 2023.

32 Schambra, “Foundations, Government, and the (Still-)Fraying Social Contract.”