There is nothing like an economic downturn to “concentrate the mind wonderfully.” That turn of phrase was coined by the 18th century English pundit Samuel Johnson. Although speaking about a man who knew he was to be hanged in a fortnight, Johnson might well have been describing the cumulative effect on philanthropy of three consecutive years of falling financial markets: The prospect of having less to give concentrates one's philanthropic thinking. Before 2003 many philanthropists used ...

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