Trump’s Lament

NGO’s Ethics

By Jonathan B. Wight

Non-profits are good and for-profits are bad, right—by definition?

Not so by a long shot.

Some non-profits are completely self-serving, and despite the furor over the IRS delaying the certification of some 501(c)(4)s because of shady political uses, some questionable NGOs do exist.

The New York Times reports that the Donald J. Trump Foundation is being sued by New York State for misuse of funds.

This wasn’t a one-time event or minor oversight. Trump allegedly used the non-profit’s funds consistently for a variety of non-sanctioned activities, including donations to political campaigns, promoting his own presidential candidacy, paying his legal fees, buying an expensive portrait of himself for one of his golf resorts, and other self-aggrandizing activities.

The Foundation is also a potential conduit for graft by a Ukrainian businessman seeking favors.

According to the article, Mr. Trump and the foundation are accused of “Repeated and willful self-dealing transactions…. that were designed to serve himself rather than the foundation’s intended beneficiaries.”

Trump announced plans after taking office to close the Foundation, but its legal troubles will likely drag on for a while.

How prevalent are self-serving NGO’s like Trump’s? I suspect there are a lot, and a lot more people donate money or in-kinds gifts mainly for their own benefit.

(Tongue-in-cheek) I think a new law should be passed saying that anyone who wants a tax deduction for donating money for the construction of a new hospital, a new school, an endowed professorship, or whatever eleemosynary activity, cannot—by law—name that building or program after themselves, a family member, or a close friend.

(Let me be clear: anyone is free to do this on their own dime, but not get a government subsidy through the tax code for this purpose.)


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)