Business: Bearing Alms

Calls for truth in giving

An American tradition that goes back to community barn raisings three centuries ago, philanthropy is now big business, but is it always a truthful business? Cheerful givers usually know precious little about a sector of the economy that in 1978 claimed a record $39.6 billion—an average of $180 for every man, woman and child in the nation —for donations to the Red Cross, United Way, CARE, the March of Dimes and some 800,000 lesser organizations raising money in the name of charity.

To help donors learn more, Carl Bakal, a...

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