Freedom to Prosper: Our Core Philosophy

Sometimes we need to take the bigger perspective. On one hand, it reminds us why we do what we do. On the other, it may actually change the world.

Charity is the practice of being benevolent, giving, and sharing. As a virtue, it is grounded in unlimited love or kindness.

For DonorsTrust it is also our business – our brand, if you will. We market our services by emphasizing the importance of donor intent, donor privacy, legacy, and targeted giving, outcomes that focus on social change, and principled philanthropy. These are all good and important facets of our mission, and shall remain so as long as we exist.

Getting to The Why

But buried in there is the WHY we do what we do? What is at DonorsTrust’s core?

There’s a proverb you may know that says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This truism is embedded in the heart of charity. For many foundations, and individual donors, it is an important motivation.  For DonorsTrust, however, it is inadequate.

For us, the purpose behind private philanthropy is to improve human flourishing and give people the freedom to prosper. At first glance, “freedom” and “prosperity” can mean a few things. For some it’s the freedom to choose a hobby. For others, it’s accumulating wealth through investing savings or rolling the dice on a new venture. But those are narrow definitions that lack greater vitality to put “prosperity” in true perspective.

The Scottish philosopher Adam Smith knew that material success is only a means to an end. The question we need to ask is – to what end?

Some pursue wealth to stockpile villas and private planes. Some start charities to fight sex trafficking, raise living standards, or cure malaria. Along the way, one creates new jobs for thousands, another soothes shattered souls.

The great thing is that we who defend economic liberty view these intertwined endeavors with a non-judgmental eye, recognizing them as the choices free individuals make to realize their dreams. We do it not just because we respect choices, but because we understand vast piles of money can constrict the heart or set it free.

DonorsTrust promotes the freedom to prosper, which means we, through our clients, promote a future with sunset walks with loved ones rather than holding down second jobs to pay rent, longer lives, a lack of major diseases, cleaner air and water, educational options for children, adequate food stocks, and, yes, charitable giving that rivals the world.

Not Just Teaching But Being

We need to do more than merely teach a man to fish. We need to free a man to fish by removing the obstacles that government willingly or unintentionally puts in his way – eliminating regulatory barriers, reducing taxes, decreasing crony shakedowns and eradicating political repression.

When we free a man to fish, he is freed to have choices and to pursue value so that he will not only fish for himself, but he will feed his family, build fish farms, and feed and employ his entire village. And, in turn, the village has the freedom to experiment, grow, and flourish as it expands to other communities. That’s the benefit of the freedom to prosper.

Liberty is the biggest lever in the world. Turn it, and humanity excels. Let’s pull it together.


  • 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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