Via Felix Salmon, an eye-opening chart:
If you can’t think of a charitable institution that could use your money more than the already-richest university in the world—one that overwhelming educates the children of prosperous people—then you’re obviously not thinking very hard. If you want to support worthwhile education endeavors, find a charter school or an obscure local college that’s doing a good job with kids from underprivileged backgrounds. Or give money to improve public health in the third world, or to an effective politics/advocacy organization working to improve American public policy. Anything, really. Just not an outfit that’s already got way more money than every other nonprofit in the country.
Big “ooops” on this one — the chart doesn’t show what Salmon and I thought it showed. This is a chart of the endowment’s contributions to the university’s operating costs not of the contributions to the endowment. The points I’m making still stand, but the chart that provoked my thinking just doesn’t say what I thought it said.