Or more precisely, am thinking about this topic again, as, four years ago I composed a letter which I had planned to send to a number of left leaning people of means in hopes of attracting their attention and their largesse. Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding actual contact information, emails and such, for those I thought might respond, so I only sent a few requests, and received no responses.
The letter is as follows with my phone number starred out for privacy reasons.
Since composing this letter, a number of things have changed. My son has graduated college while my daughter just finished her 2nd year. My wife now has a new job with a better salary. While I no longer deliver newspapers every day, I still work a 2nd job, but now only work 48 hours a week instead of 60. At this point, $5,000 per year would produce the extra time to blog, although at this point, my hope is that through my writings, an opportunity to "earn" the extra money will result as opposed to receiving money from a patron.
More importantly, my view of philanthropy and philanthropists has changed since I wrote the above letter, partly from my research into the bureaucratic mentality that seems to control so many established philanthropic organizations, and especially this past week with the arrival of Lapham's Quarterly.
In his opening essay, Lewis Lapham breaks down the naïve perspective of philanthropy that I expressed in the first paragraph of my letter, detailing the difference between those who give to advance the cause of humanity and those who give for their own glory. It seems even more stark, when donations for political reasons are examined. Of course, we donate to candidates that we agree with, but there seems ample evidence that too many of the donations that emanate from the super rich, are motivated to influence candidates, to support those candidates that will pass laws favorable to the interests of those donors, and, even worse, to legally slander those candidates that do not agree with the opinions of the donor, creating a negative opinion not easily countered, and too eagerly accepted by an electorate that spends very little time researching before voting.
Then too, there are innumerable organizations, created under the guise of a non-profit entity, that bestow lavish salaries on their creators or benefactors, yet direct a very small percentage of donations into actual work that most would consider the purview of a charitable organization. Add to that the "experts" that some of these companies retain on their payroll to advance a cause through the appearance of facts and hard science, without either being present, and it becomes clear that philanthropy has been hijacked by some whose motives are anything but inspired to improve the human condition.
Hopefully, as I continue reading, I will find ample evidence that philanthropy, like all tools created for and by men, can be used for good and bad. And that, as quoted from Nuruddin Farah, "Every gift has a personality - that of its giver".