A valuable and thorough resource for aspiring philanthropists.

HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL PHILANTHROPIST

AVOIDING THE LEGAL PITFALLS

A brief primer focuses on the laws governing charitable giving. 

Hopkins (The Law of Tax Exempt Organizations, 2015, etc.) has devoted nearly half a century to advising nonprofit, tax-exempt corporations how to negotiate the legal landscape of philanthropy. But in recent years, the author has noticed more individual clients seeking his counsel, and it is that crowd to whom this guide is addressed. Hopkins begins at the elemental level, taking nothing for granted, including a basic definition of the philanthropist as “an individual who contributes large sums of money for charitable purposes.” For someone who wishes to engage in considerable giving, the legal options available are dauntingly complex: One can form a private foundation, create a public charity, start an account called a donor-advised fund, or confect some hybridized version of all three. The author methodically helps readers articulate what precisely they want to accomplish and carefully weigh the options most conducive to the achievement of those goals. For example, if philanthropists insist on creating organizations over which they can assert maximum control, private foundations are probably the wisest vehicles. But if maximizing charitable deductions is one’s principal objective, a public charity likely makes more sense. Hopkins also discusses the possibility of garnering public recognition for charitable giving without the legal burden of institutionalization by virtue of naming gifts. Furthermore, he assesses the various ways all these options can be structured, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each, and includes detailed analyses of illustrative case studies. His book is both remarkably concise and exhaustive—it’s difficult to imagine a more comprehensive introduction to the topic of comparable brevity. Especially considering the dense, intimidatingly technical nature of the subject matter, the author writes in mercifully lucid prose of the kind one would expect from a veteran teacher. In addition, he points out, with a wry charm, the ambiguities and omissions that bedevil the law: “What is the minimum amount that should be contributed in forming a private foundation? No one knows.”

A valuable and thorough resource for aspiring philanthropists. 

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4809-9916-9

Page Count: 146

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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