The annual Slate 60 list of the largest charitable contributions of the year is out today.
Their "takeaway" from is list is that:
Two hoteliers known for providing comfort to the well-to-do are leaving a different legacy: aid to the less fortunate... The late Leona Helmsley bequeathed $4 billion to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and Barron Hilton donated $1.2 billion to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, started by his father.Unfortunately, I have a different "takeaway." For me, it stands out that the two biggest gifts were given almost involuntarily... when one donor died and the other may have needed to find a tax shelter after making a multi-billion dollar capital gain tax this year.
Sure, both gifts are very big... and generous... and I'm sure the world will be a better place because of these donations. I'm not going to knock planned gifts of personal estates. I'm also impressed that our government continues to offer generous charity donation deductions.
However, size isn't what always touches this fundraiser. I'm more impressed with the gifts given voluntarily during one's life. Gifts that respond to an organizations specific needs without asking for anything in return. Is that too naive?