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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

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

4 hours ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.