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Meet the Press: Diana Aviv Q&A with the L.A. Times

October 03, 2007

Aviv_lg_3 In a previous post, I questioned New York Times reporter Stephanie Strom's assertion that there's a growing debate in the U.S. "over what philanthropy is achieving at a time when the wealthiest Americans control a rising share of the national income and, because of sharp cuts in personal taxes, give up less to government." Credit my skepticism to DNA and experience: having covered the field for a while, I've made peace with the fact that most Americans know little about philanthropy and spend less time thinking about it.

The same can't be said of denizens of Capitol Hill or editorial board rooms around the country. Philanthropy -- as media coverage of last week's annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative demonstrated -- is a big story, and scrutiny of foundations, nonprofits, and other tax-exempt organizations, by the media and Congress, is likely to increase as more dollars flow into and through the sector.

That will lead to some tough questions, as Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector, learned earlier this week on a visit to the City of Angels. Aviv, who was in L.A. getting ready for IS' annual conference (Oct. 21-23), was invited to drop by and speak with editors of the Times, who had a few things on their mind. Such as: What is a charity and what is a tax writeoff? Why should donations to fabulously well-endowed organizations be tax deductible? Should Congress be taking more interest in who gets tax-exempt status? How does one measure the effectiveness of nonprofits and foundations?

You can read an extended excerpt of that conversation here.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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