Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

The trustees of the Virginia G. Piper Trust

Big-time philanthropy is a peculiar enterprise – undemocratic, accountable to no one and slow to change.

If you doubt it, consider the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Arizona’s largest private foundation. The trustees are paid $44,000 a year, more than the directors at the Ford or Rockefeller foundations, which are far bigger. They took control of the biggest day of giving in the trust’s history, excluding the paid staff. And what do you know? Some of the most generous grants went to charities on whose boards they sit.

It’s all perfectly legal, and it may be just what Virginia G. Piper, the trust’s eponymous benefactor, would have wanted.

You can read my story about the Piper Trust on Medium.

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