Dec 5, 2019 - Economy

The season of philanthropy

Data: Giving Tuesday; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Giving Tuesday; Chart: Axios Visuals

As noted in Axios' Philanthropy Deep Dive on Saturday, philanthropists are big-picture strategic thinkers who generally want to use their money to influence government. By their nature, they're generally unaccountable and undemocratic forces in society.

The big picture: Giving Tuesday, which just passed, is a countervailing force to the prevailing philanthropic winds. It serves no strategic purpose; it merely encourages ordinary citizens to give money to charity on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. (The bigger long-term trend is that household donations to charity are declining, rather than rising.)

  • This year, Giving Tuesday raised an estimated $511 million for charity online, and $2 billion in total — all in a distributed, democratic manner.

The news headlines, however, went to the New York Philharmonic, which is attempting to raise $550 million to refurbish its current home.

  • That project involves removing more than 500 seats from the auditorium and disappearing Richard Lippold's glistening "Orpheus and Apollo" sculpture.
  • The exterior of the orchestra's home will not be touched, which has helped keep the budget below the previous $900 million estimate. Still, $15 million has already been spent paying the family of Avery Fisher to allow his eponymous hall to be renamed in honor of David Geffen.

Go deeper: Billionaires build new "benevolent aristocracy"

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