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America’s commitment to philanthropy is unique among nations—it is a tangible example of American exceptionalism. Charity is an essential ingredient in our prosperity, happiness, and freedom.  But America’s great tradition of voluntary giving may be jeopardized by economic challenges on the horizon. AEI President Arthur Brooks is overseeing a multi-year project which begins with a new research report analyzing the impact of the recent recession on giving and which discusses the optimal policies for encouraging the growth of private philanthropy. This paper is just one component of a broader effort that will include articles, op-eds, research papers, events, and other activities aimed at ensuring America’s culture of philanthropy remains entrenched as an important part of our national heritage.

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America’s commitment to philanthropy is unique among nations—it is a tangible example of American exceptionalism.

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This paper estimates the price and income elasticities of charitable giving using the 2009 Panel Study of Income Dynamics. It then considers the likely effects of the 2013 personal income tax rate increases and possible tax deduction limits currently under consideration.


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The holidays are here, and in the coming weeks you’ll see your mailbox fill with plaintive requests from every imaginable charity and nonprofit cause. I run one of them, so I should know.

If history is any indication, many of these requests will not go unrequited: The philanthropy monitor Giving USA estimates that U.S. nonprofits and houses of worship received an amazing $316 billion in 2012.

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Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, discusses tax policy, philanthropy, the effects of capping the charitable deduction and AEI’s Philanthropic Freedom Project with Marques Chavez of the Alliance for Charitable Reform.

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With tax law changes swirling around us every day, nonprofit executives like me lie awake nights wondering how these changes will affect the charitable giving on which we depend.

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If education philanthropists want to influence policy, then they must open themselves to more public debate about their  plans and goals.

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Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates speak during the 'Gates Foundation' press conference at the Annual Meeting 2009 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 30, 2009.

Normally, we expect to get thanked when giving a few bucks to a good cause. When it comes to K-12 schooling, though, folks giving away millions have been slammed for their trouble.

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If successful business people have some obligation to “give back” to society, then don’t successful politicians have that same obligation as well?

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