I applaud the recent testimony of Elder Dallin H. Oaks regarding the tax deduction for charitable giving. Public and private charities ease terrible suffering, enrich the fabric of our society and facilitate opportunities for many of us. Our goal should be to help charitable causes do more of these good things. A couple of suggestions:
1. Increase transparency. According to Giving USA, $100 billion was given to religious organizations during 2010. Additional transparency is necessary to ensure these charitable donations are being used for charitable purposes.
2. Encourage distribution. Giving USA reports the second and third largest destinations for charitable giving are education ($42 billion) and private foundations ($33 billion). Many institutions of higher education have endowments larger than $1 billion, and several have endowments larger than $10 billion. Think of the good that could come from even a small increase in required minimum distributions from endowments and private foundations.
At a time when people across America are increasingly skeptical and shrill, we should be celebrating what is right with our society. Our network of public and private charities is worthy of that celebration.