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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic had already prompted an increase in charitable donations before the current national reckoning over systemic racism kicked that number up even further.

By the numbers: An FT analysis has found more than $450 million in corporate pledges made to groups focused on social and racial justice — and that's before the increase in disbursements from the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and others.

How it works: Some of America's largest foundations are borrowing money as part of their plans to increase their annual payouts. The Ford Foundation, for instance, will issue $1 billion in 30- and 50-year "social bonds" and spend that money over the next two years.

  • The idea is to maximize the proportion of the existing $13.7 billion endowment that remains invested in the market rather than given to the needy.

What they're saying: A long list of high-profile philanthropists has called on Congress to mandate a 10% payout from foundations and donor-advised funds.

  • "Increased funding could be immediately absorbed by food banks, health care providers, educational institutions, and organizations addressing issues like poverty alleviation, economic development, safe and secure voting, and social justice," they write.
  • The proposal seems unlikely to go anywhere, and is opposed by substantially all of the foundations and funds that it would affect. As the social bond issues show, maintaining or increasing the size of a charitable foundation in perpetuity seems always to be the highest priority.

My thought bubble: We're at an unprecedented time in terms of demand for charitable services. Philanthropic foundations need to give away only 5% of their assets each year, and donor-advised funds — which are also tax-exempt — need to give away nothing at all. Now would be a great time to force a large rise in payouts.

Go deeper

Updated 44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."