Giving and Giving In

My first reaction to reading this book is, what has all the controversy been about? Patterns is an empirical study of corporate giving to public interest—as opposed to traditional health and welfare—charities. Mr. Bennett has shown great ingenuity in constructing a paradigm of such giving that he does not claim to be formally representative, but that is nevertheless very serviceable, and certainly the best study of the subject ever attempted.

The results of the survey show that American corporations—unsurprisingly—distribute their public interest philanthropic grants rather evenly between conservative, centrist, and liberal groups. But, although the number of grants are spread out, the larger ones tend to be directed toward the left end of the political spectrum; hence the controversy.

Yearly, liberal groups receive about $11.7 million from business, compared to $11.3 million for centrist groups and only $3.2 million for conservative ones. When center groups leaning left and right are analyzed, liberals are found to have almost twice the financial support from the corporate world as do conservatives. James Bennett finds it strange that businesses should offer greater assistance to groups that are critical of the capitalist marketplace than to those organizations that support it. Corporate charitable decisionmakers, with one eye on their stockholders, have howled in response that they are...

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