Is It Morally Wrong to Give Money to Harvard?

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<p>While some/many may think that H has more than enough money, I don’t think it can be argued that it’s “morally wrong” to give money to any law-abiding, ethical non-profit entity. </p>

<p>Personally, I would think the givers could find other needier but worthy entities, but people have the right to give where they want.</p>

<p>The article makes an interesting point, though, regarding taxes.</p>

<p>I would agree that there are other entities where that money would make far more of a difference, including many excellent universities and colleges.</p>

<p>I do think it’s morally wrong. I say that as a Yale alum. Those schools have more than enough money and the truth is this is all about them, about their self-interest. What they “sell” is association with the big brand name, a labeling that you and your name will both live “forever” and be forever part of this most prestigious brand. It is very much like buying a gigantic set of Birkin bags that go with you through the afterlife. That is, you can’t take it with you but you can use it to buy a measure of immortality. </p>

<p>They dress this bargain up in clothes of scholarships and support for x or y program. They don’t need your money. They want it because the more they get the more they get and the more they get the more they perpetuate themselves. That is the mission of the brand school at the top.</p>

<p>Morally wrong can be defined by some people as “I don’t beat babies to death”. I use a lesser test, one that’s flexible to fit different situations. It is more a test of ethics, a grade of not absolute right or wrong but whether you are acting optimally or merely within a range of what is acceptable. If you have money, real money, and you choose to give it to Harvard or Yale then you are choosing to use it to buy yourself something. You have the choice and you choose this one. A failure of imagination. A failure of moral courage. A failure of ethics because you’ve chosen what is “acceptable” to the world and which gives you this form of benefit instead of other choices. </p>

<p>Of course it’s not morally wrong. People can do whatever the flip they want to do with their money, certainly donating it isn’t a moral failing. Perhaps the tax code should be revised so it’s not a tax break. Of course, I think they should simplify the tax code and lower the rate, take out all tax breaks. Trying to control people’s behavior through taxes is ridiculous and complicated. If someone buys a sports car, is that morally wrong? How about a large house? How about an expensive bottle of wine? You could have gotten two buck Chuck and donated the difference to the homeless organization, you selfish loser!</p>

<p>The point of article appears to be that what makes donating to Harvard morally wrong is that it is then not taxed. The government doesn’t get its cut.</p>

<p>Excerpt from the linked article:</p>

<p>“That would make the donation a wash, morally, except for one thing: Donations to nonprofits are not taxed. That means the U.S. government, which is nominally set up to provide social goods to its citizens, is out somewhere between $15 million and $70 million, depending on how aggressive Griffin’s accountants are. (Many financial engineers claim their income as carried interest, which is taxed at a lower capital gains rate.) Avoiding taxes may make a donation to Harvard a moral negative, in terms of social good.”</p>

<p>So if you believe that the federal government is a better steward of your money than Harvard then I urge you to take whatever money you were planning to donate to Harvard and send it to the U.S. government instead. </p>

<p>Are we talking about Harvard or are we talking about texaspg?

<p>I dont know about morally wrong, but it is wrong for some non profits to not pay taxes. It is hard to draw the line. Harvard receives so many tax breaks and subsidies. How much money does does Harvard receive in grants every year? Why as a country are we doing this? </p>

<p>Just a bizarre article…Is the author unhappy Harvard has a $30+ billion endowment or that someone gets to deduct a $150 million donation? What does he want to change? </p>

<li>strip Harvard’s status as a tax-exempt entity?</li>
<li>take away tax deductions for donations over a certain amount?<br></li>

<p>Most non-profits depend on donations for their livelihood, with the tax deduction of these donations being a major reason many givers give. It’s the one deduction that Congress is loathe to touch because of the political fallout that would occur. </p>

<p>Here’s some interesting reading on non-profits and where donations go in the US. (table 5 on page 7 has the summary).</p>

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<p>Nj2011mom, I like your link. Thanks. It is complicated. Where do you draw the line and say this non profit should not receive govt support? People draw different lines?</p>

<p>“Where do you draw the line and say this non profit should not receive govt support?”</p>

<p>Perhaps at the point where they have tens of billions of dollars and do not need government support. Why should a non profit get government support infinitely, when they obviously don’t need it? Kind of like non stop corporate welfare to massively profitable corporations.</p>

<p>“Are we talking about Harvard or are we talking about texaspg?”</p>

<p>I know headline says Harvard but I would presume it might apply to many top schools with large endowments. I was listening to Stanford president respond to a parent question yesterday where he was asked essentially a similar question - why are you raising tuition every year while you are out raising so much money ($ 4 billion campaign). He essentially said the tuition has not gone up for middle class students who receive aid since 1990s (80’s?). However, those who are just above the financial need cap do pay the full amount each year (62k this year) whether they are wealthy or making 130k. I have no doubt the students get a lot more in return than the price tag t these schools but as parents, we do have to make those decisions as to whether spending that much money gets us somewhere.</p>

<p>Busdriver11, I may share some of your sentiments but it does get complicated.</p>

<p>Ken Griffin has been very successful in the investment world. I dont know why this guy gets better tax treatment than you. Well I do know why…people like him make the rules.</p>

<p>Texaspg, a family with an income of 130,000 has to pay over 60,000 a year for their kid to go to Stanford? That sounds ridiculously high. I think Stanford is one of the schools that is worth it, but still…that is a heck of a burden. (Stanford crushes Harvard in the tech world). With all of Stanford’'s wealth, that is the best Stanford can do? That is abysmal.</p>

<p>Years ago I stopped donating to my alma mater, Northwestern. I moved my donations to our 2 state flagships, one of which my son attends. Both schools do a ton for our state and my community. I want my dollars to help the people in my community and help make my state a better place. </p>

<p>It wasn’t really that much and NU really doesn’t need the money. If NU somehow ceased to exist, it wouldn’t make any difference to me or the state I reside in. If our state flagships struggle, our whole state struggles. </p>



<p>I think the federal government is better at providing national defense than Harvard is. Federal road building/maintaining too. There are thousands of things the federal government does better than Harvard for the public good…</p>

<p>But my meager share of the money required to fund the federal government increases so that Harvard’s endowment can grow. No, I won’t send in extra money to the government because of that, I’ll donate it to true non-profits that really need it.</p>

<p>150 mil will certainly get your kids in, if he’s got any in hs. On another note, many corporate and foundation gifts consider the percentage of alum giving, as a measure of satisfaction and success, not the dollar amounts. $25 will do it, then give the rest to some local charity that you know is on a tight budget with low overhead.</p>

<p>"How much money does does Harvard receive in grants every year? "</p>

<p>Do you mean from gov’t agencies? Well, maybe grants should be means-tested then. </p>

<p>A friend of mine is very successful, and does not mind making charitable donations of size (6 or 7-digit, but not 9-digit). For years he gave to one of HYPSM, but one year he had an epiphany: “If I had not gone to the school I went to, I would have gone to another equally good school, and I would have done well. However, my father, who was working as a waiter at the time, was given financial aid by a small private college, and the education transformed his life; he got an office job and put his children through college. My donations will now go to my father’s school.” An added bonus is that he feels his donation is genuinely appreciated at his father’s school. </p>


They could start by denying tax benefits if the money is sent overseas. There are a lot of deserving people across the world, and I still support some of these organizations from where I grew up, but there is no reason for the US taxpayer to be forced to subsidize these donations.</p>



<p>Not specific to Harvard, but some people’s view of what is ethically or morally right or wrong do not necessarily align with what is legal or illegal. Indeed, the cynical might say that many lawyers’ and judges’ jobs are to distinguish between the unethical and illegal, and many politicians’ and lobbyists’ jobs are to either make the law align with a particular viewpoint of ethics, or to carve out an exemption for some interest group where what may be seen as unethical by many is made legal.</p>

<p>I can’t understand why anyone would bother donating “un-named” middling money to a $32 billion hedge fund. It’s like pouring a glass of water into the ocean.</p>

<p>I can, however, understand how someone would derive a Godzilla-sized masterbatory ego-stroke from donating a $100 million “named” sum and having one’s name engraved on a building or on an endowed chair at Harvard for posterity. </p>