Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Philanthropreneurs

Could  profit-making entities do better than charities to serve some areas of the public good? Bruce Bartlett touches upon the question in his second discussion of the charitable deduction. (Jim Gust linked to the first installment here.)

Philanthropreneurs have made news lately. Jeff Bezos has bought The Washington Post, Red Sox owner Paul Henry has agreed to nurture The Boston Globe, and hedge-fund tycoon John A. Paulson has rescued the venerable Steinway piano company. Their common goal: preservation and enhancement of organizations that contribute more to society than they are likely to earn in profits.

A pioneer philanthropreneur was Paul Newmen. A generation ago he began to market a commercial version of his home-made salad dressing, pledging to give away all profits. Now vastly expanded, Newman's Own has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for charity.

Say, there's an idea . . . . What if Jeff Bezos sold digital WP subscriptions to Amazon customers with the promise that once the subscriber base reached a certain level, all profits earned would be plowed into additional good works?

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