Consider Supporting Liberty with Your Charitable Dollars

I’ll be blunt: now, more than ever, we need committed givers, thinkers, and doers in the fight for liberty. It may get ugly.

We of the limited-government, free-enterprise believing ilk like to think we have won the battle of ideas. Yet if the battle is over, why do so many polls, elections, policies, and newspaper headlines suggest otherwise?

The fight for liberty marches onward – and always will. And, while a true axiom, it requires more than heeding Ronald Reagan’s observation about freedom being only a single generation away from extinction. It mandates more than teaching, but doing. The events of 2020 highlight the fact that there is still much work to do in preserving our freedoms. The health crisis created by COVID-19 cascaded into an economic crisis. Government “remedies” exacerbated both the health and economic crises.

It’s evident that the street battle for implementing liberty-driven ideas and leaders isn’t going as well as you or I would like. But our side has a secret – the yearning for liberty has a powerful heartbeat among the majority of Americans. Truth be told, I’d say it’s an inalienable desire of every human around the world.

Too often, however, our ideas and values get put on the defensive. Those on the other side have honed their message by offering the comfort of immediate security and quick fixes. However, these offers hide the expensive trade-off of long-term dependence and the withering of human ingenuity.

We Can Make Progress

We need to avoid the notion we simply can’t win.  When we connect our principles and policies with the better lives that are possible, link them with powerful stories, and ensure a steady revenue stream, liberty-minded policies can win the day. In the background during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, public policy organizations quiet wins:

The Competitive Enterprise Institute launched a #neverneeded regulatory campaign that was picked up by other groups, and, in part led to a White House directive calling on federal agency heads to carefully examine every rule that has been waived or suspended so as to help address the coronavirus crisis and permanently repeal those that do more harm than good. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker adopted a version of the Pioneer Institute’s tax relief ideas for the local restaurant and hospitality businesses, specifically delaying tax payments.

We have seen state and federal executive orders issued to allow Health Savings Account dollars for direct primary care (and legislative proposals to make that permanent). Several states has pushed through innovation waivers for new technologies to operate in a self-imposed “regulatory sandbox” so that they can experiment freely. Others have eliminated licensing restrictions, certificate of need requirements, or dramatically shortened the time frame for starting new businesses.

The National Education Association is terrified of major changes underway in home schooling, “micro schools,” educational “pods,” and innovative funding schemes that ultimately erode their power.

The problem, of course, is that this is boring and in the weeds. And we are focused on the problems of the forest (which, I confess, are very real).

Supporting Liberty Now

Donors today have a role to play in all of this. I’ve met many people who lump their giving to such policy fights as part of their “political giving.”  Those same people often think differently when it comes to gifts to “real charities,” – the civic, religious, artistic, and medical non-profits that also do important work.

I propose that this is a mistaken way to see things. Social benefit isn’t limited to churches and civic groups. Good policy enables citizens to make their own choices, to determine their own path, and allows for a richer and more prosperous society. Our “obligation” as citizen is to use our talents to address problems as we see fit – and to think of the government’s role in such problem solving as secondary. We can only do that if we are, in fact, generating “wealth.”

DonorsTrust want to see civil society strengthened, and our clients give to a wide range of causes – many in the public policy space but also far beyond – that enable people to embrace their freedom, take personal responsibility, and operate with a sense of self-determination.

Secure a Better Future – For the Country and You

And even as you do good in preserving liberty, you do well for yourself when you use a donor-advised fund. Your donor-advised account allows you to simplify your giving. You receive generous tax benefits, particularly as compared to a private foundation. You are able to manage the level of privacy you want in your giving in new ways (something that these days may be more important than ever before!) And, working with a partner like DonorsTrust, you gain a sounding board, ally, and strategic partner in your philanthropic efforts.

Above all, DonorsTrust will be your partner in seeing your legacy through even after you no longer can. Our mission is centered on preserving donor intent for liberty minded donors – people like you. Whether you intend for your charitable giving to continue one year or 25 years after your death, we’ll see that your charitable capital never strays from the intent statement you leave with us, and never drifts to causes that undermine your values..

We know our ideas are better. Securing more freedom is never an ignoble cause. Unfortunately, doing so is a persistent fight. We do it despite the external forces against us. Everyone committed to these ideas has a role to play in battling the darkness so that the ideas of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise carry the day.


  • Lawson Bader

    Since 2015, Lawson Bader serves as president and CEO of DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. Before coming to DonorsTrust, he amassed twenty years’ experience leading free-market research and advocacy groups including the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He began his career in DC in as special assistant at the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, then worked as a legislative analyst/paralegal with Pierson, Semmes & Finley, and managed government relations at SRI International. He is a former weekly columnist with Human Events, and a current contributor to Kiplinger and member of the Forbes Nonprofit Council. He also serves on the governing boards of the Atlas Network, State Policy Network, and Oakseed Ministries International. Lawson earned a BA in political science from Wheaton College (IL) and an MA in public policy from The Johns Hopkins University.

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