Alas for the one foundation that took this giving philosophy and applied it in the realm of philanthropy. Why should giving more to those with much be the exclusive province of the distributor of tax breaks? The Trump Foundation looked around this country and thought about its most pressing problems, and understood that the answer was: Billionaires in general, and the Trump family in particular, need more money at their disposal.
Think of all the Trumps this foundation helped. Donald, Donald Jr., a business associate of Trump’s, a Trump-affiliated fountain, a tower, Pam Bondi. Think of all the millions who benefited from these actions — millions, that is, of dollars that Donald Trump did not have to spend and were able to stay happily united with their friends in his investment vehicles, or wherever it is that we think they are, not having seen his tax returns.
Yet it is not just the money that was allowed to remain with its friends that was a direct beneficiary of this charity. Countless people benefited from the charitable work the Trump Foundation did.
An oil portrait of Donald Trump that could have run feral and terrorized thousands was contained and placed on the wall of a Trump golf club where it could do no harm, except to itself (mysteriously dropping in value from 700 to zero dollars, alas; one dares not speculate). And it was by means of this organization that the Boy Scouts received the priceless gift of exactly enough money to buy Donald Trump Jr.’s scout membership — a gift that spared the dozens of similar organizations he might have joined, as well as their countless members, the joy of his company. It is difficult to count the number of heartbreaking GoFundMe campaigns have been started by families determined that, even though they had recently suffered terrible medical setbacks, Donald Trump’s businesses should not have to pay legal fees. Thanks to the Trump Foundation, those poor businesses' wishes came true.
Most charities focus on obvious charitable causes — people who need clean water, or medical care, or a safe place to live. The Trump Foundation focused on people who are not sure that any of those things are necessary.
The Trump Foundation heard the tale of a man, reputed to be a billionaire, who needed to pay some legal bills and was at loose ends, and the foundation was naturally moved. How could any foundation be anything but moved by such a tale? Of course they would pay for his private business’s legal settlement. And when it turned out that by some coincidence he and they had the same name, it seemed almost like fate.
Now, what of the billionaires? What of the billionaires struggling to make it between the covers of Forbes? What of the billionaires without two yachts to rub together? Where will they turn?
I weep for all the nonprofits that have been working hard on grant applications to the Trump Foundation, showing exactly how their project will benefit the Trump family. This must have taken time and effort, especially for organizations with missions not immediately or obviously aligned with the Trump family plan (“Conserving the habitat of the spotted owl could, someday, provide valuable real estate for a potential Trump investment, and we will send everyone in the family a festive hat.")
The Trump Foundation’s unique approach to charitable giving will be missed. With it gone, when impecunious billionaires or struggling, hungry business associates of Donald Trump’s need help making ends meet, where will they be able to turn? On what resources can they possibly fall back?