Kreller Hot Topic Report | Gift Horse: The Role of Due Diligence in Fundraising and Philanthropy
by Lauren Caryer, PhD
Doing your Homework
In a memorable 2007 episode of Curb your Enthusiasm, titled “The Anonymous Donor,” Larry David attends a gala honoring his and another major donation made to the National Resources Defense Council. While Larry is initially delighted with the praise he receives, his charitable act is quickly overshadowed by a large and impressive anonymous donation. The scene centers on Larry’s discomfiture when he – and everyone else at the gala – learns that “Mr. Wonderful Anonymous” is, in fact, his nemesis, Ted Danson. Larry rails against the perceived injustice of Danson receiving extra kudos for the selflessness of an uncredited donation, despite leaking to the attendants that he was the mystery benefactor. While the situation is played for laughs as an instance of Larry’s petty righteousness, – at one point he exclaims in frustration, “Nobody told me I could be anonymous and tell people!” – the episode inadvertently highlights the ways in which anonymous donations can confer social recognition on the donor from a small circle of individuals in the know, while hiding the source of the funds from others, even the recipients.
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