A companion to The Great Philanthropists and the Problem of “Donor Intent,” author Martin Morse Wooster considers whether the legal life of foundations should be limited to prevent successor trustees from ignoring the donor’s intent. This volume surveys past congressional attempts to limit foundation perpetuity and offers case studies of donors who have put legal limits on their own foundations, setting a termination date and requiring the foundation to pay out all its assets.

Martin Morse Wooster, a Senior Fellow at Capital Research Center, received his undergraduate degree in history and philosophy from Beloit College.  He is a contributing editor of Philanthropy and a columnist for the Washington Times. He has been an associate editor of The American Enterprise, Washington editor of Reason, an associate editor of The Wilson Quarterly, and Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. He is also the author of The Great Philanthropists and the Problem of “Donor Intent,” Return to Charity?, The Foundation Builders, and By Their Bootstraps. He has also contributed articles on the history of philanthropy to The Encyclopedia of Civil Rights, The Encyclopedia of Philanthropy, The Encyclopedia of the Victorian Era, and Notable American Philanthropists.

What They Are Saying:

“If a man has wealth, he has to make a choice, because there is the money heaping up. He can keep it together in a bunch, and then leave it for others to administer after he is dead. Or he can get it into action and have fun, while he is still alive. I prefer getting it into action and adapting it to human needs, and making the plan work.”–George Eastman, Eastman Kodak

“I think it is inevitable that as trustees and officers of perpetuities grow old they become more concerned to conserve the funds in their care than to wring from those funds the greatest possible usefulness. That tendency is evident already in some of the foundations, and as time goes on it will not lessen but increase. The cure for this disease is a radical operation. If the funds must exhaust themselves within a generation, no bureaucracy is likely to develop around them.”–Julius Rosenwald, Sears, Roebuck

“I believe that, after the first generation, inherited wealth loses the spirit and the values of the people who earned that wealth. There comes a disconnection between the funds and the source of the funds…. The culture of those in charge becomes not too dissimilar from the culture of the government bureaucracies who dispense funds confiscated from the taxpayers.”–Joseph J. Jacobs, Jacobs Engineering Group