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Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer / Blog / Charitable Giving / Not all want their good works to be known

Not all want their good works to be known

Some people give to charities simply to get a break on their taxes, while others do the same thing to look good in the eyes of the community.

For many, though, charitable is simply the right thing to do, and not only do they not want recognition for it, but also they want their act to remain hidden from public scrutiny.

More than 90 billionaires in the United States, led by Berkshire Hathaway‘s Warren Buffett and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, have gone public with their pledge to give away at least half of their fortunes while still alive or when they die.

But that approach doesn’t suit everyone, according to a recent article in Forbes magazine.

“Still, many other wealthy people, and ordinary folks, too, may prefer to keep their giving a secret, for example, because they shun the limelight, are concerned about kidnapping attempts if people find out they are wealthy, or want to avoid hostility from people philosophically opposed to the causes they support,” the story stated. “One of the few surveys on anonymous giving concluded that the primary reason donors like to keep their identities a secret is to avoid getting badgered by fund-raising requests.”

That study, conducted in 1991 by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, found that 50.6 percent of anonymous donors did so to keep from being solicited by organizations they did not care to support.

“When philanthropists talk about the spiritual aspects of giving anonymously, they often cite the 12th-century Jewish wise man Maimonides, who ranked anonymous giving as the second-highest level of charity,” according to Forbes. “Maimonides taught that the rich person shouldn’t feel superior for giving and the poor person shouldn’t feel inferior.”

“Likewise, some wealthy people today prefer to give anonymously because they feel very lucky that they had the brains or the right family to have more than the person down the block,” the story quoted Julie Salamon, author of the 2003 book “Rambam’s Ladder: A Meditation on Generosity and Why It Is Necessary to Give” was quoted as saying. “They want to set the balance straight and don’t want a lot of credit for it.”

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