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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"

Go deeper

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
48 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus death rates rising across the country

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, Census Bureau; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Daily coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday, when roughly 2,800 people died from the virus.

The big picture: Caseloads and hospitalizations continue to rise, and deaths are spiking in states all across the country.

49 mins ago - World

Ratcliffe's long-term China play

Ratcliffe testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in May. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told Axios in an interview Thursday that "China and China alone is the only country that has the ability to compete with the U.S." — and hopes the intelligence community will adopt his view even under "the next administration."

Why it matters: Ratcliffe's comments suggested that he's trying to lock in the Trump era's harder line on China for the long term.