As Money Moves Offshore, New Questions About How Foundations Invest Their Assets
By Tate Williams
Throughout philanthropy’s history, it’s drawn intermittent waves of intense criticism, and it certainly feels like we’re heading into one now. Outrage over wealth accumulation, an unbridled tech industry, money in politics and more is inspiring healthy scrutiny from many directions (including us).
Some of this criticism is not over funders’ influence, grantmaking practices, or relative stinginess, but about the assets lying behind the grants—the fortunes behind the 5 percent annual payout, and what exactly all that money is up to.
The latest example is a recent investigative report from Science, which found that seven of the largest private research funders have, conservatively, made more than $5 billion in secretive offshore investments. The report shines a light not only on the dodgy, if legal, financial practices of these foundations, but also the ways such investments undermine their missions for public good.