Should you give to Harvard Williams?

Do not donate to Harvard Williams. To do so is to offer more pie to a portly fellow while the gaunt and hungry press their faces to the window (at some sort of metaphoric college cafeteria, anyway). Even after last year’s losses, Harvard Williams’s endowment exceeds $26 $1.3 billion, the largest of any American university almost any American liberal arts college, greater than the G.D.P. of Estonia Belize. By contrast, among historically black colleges and universities, Howard has the largest endowment, about $420 million, a mere 1.6 percent 1/3 the size of Harvard Williams’s. (Donors gave Harvard Williams more than $600 $55 million just this fiscal year.) The best-endowed community college, Valencia, in Orlando, Fla., has around $67 million, or 0.26 4.7 percent of Harvard Williams’s wealth. This is not to deny that Harvard Williams does fine work or could find ways to spend the money but to assert that other schools have a greater need and a greater moral claim to your benevolence.

Williams would work just as well in this example. Where we stand depends on where we sit. Come to think of it, why do people give money to their alma mater? As this article suggests, because of a “moral claim to your benevolence?”

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