Martin Morse Wooster

Martin Morse Wooster is senior fellow at the Capital Research Center. He is the author of three books: Angry Classrooms, Vacant Minds (Pacific Research Institute, 1994), The Great Philanthropists and the Problem of ‘Donor Intent’ (Capital Research Center, 1994; revised 1998, 2007, and 2017), and Great Philanthropic Mistakes (Hudson Institute, 2006; revised 2010). His monographs about philanthropy include Should Foundations Live Forever? (Capital Research Center, 1998), The Foundation Builders (Philanthropy Roundtable, 2000), Return to Charity? (Capital Research Center, 2000), By Their Bootstraps (Manhattan Institute, 2002), and Games Universities Play (Pope Center, 2011). His articles and reviews have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, American Spectator, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Commentary, Elle, Air and Space, Esquire, Philanthropy, Policy Review, Reader’s Digest, Reason, and Washingtonian.

Wooster frequently comments on philanthropic issues for newspapers, magazines, and television in the U.S. and Great Britain. He has contributed to the Encyclopedia of Philanthropy, the Encyclopedia of Civil Rights, and Notable American Philanthropists.

Wooster was formerly an editor at The American Enterprise, Reason, the Wilson Quarterly, and Harper’s Magazine. He was graduated from Beloit College with degrees in history and philosophy.


Andrew Carnegie’s advice for philanthropists

There were certainly some big mistakes along the way, but Carnegie’s advice to philanthropists is not without merit.

How much control do university donors have over their gift?

When Nikole Hannah-Jones was under review for tenure at UNC, a mega-donor who named the journalism school confidentially—and controversially—expresed his opposition to her tenure.


Cancel culture in philanthropy

It’s not always unwise to remove someone’s name from a building or an award. But we should make that decision with accurate information.

Program officers should be skeptical of proposals that promise too much

Foundation program officers look for bold proposals that promise the outcomes they are hoping for. This can skew their ability to assess them.


Feminist college funders and the problem of donor intent

Philanthropy in higher education has a storied history of donor intent abuses. Clear and firm restrictions are the only way to protect your goals.

Passion projects and philanthropy

Jeff Sandefer, founder of Acton Business School, Acton Academy, and Acton Children’s Business Fair, is an excellent example of a philanthropist with passionate ideas that he will invest in.


Plainfield, New Jersey judge ruled in favor of donor intent

In 1925, a donor left two paintings to the city of Plainfield, New Jersey. A judge had to determine whether or not the city could sell the paintings, or if that violated the donor’s will.

Form 990s facilitate transparency for donors

The nonprofit tax form, the 990, is a bureaucratic burden on nonprofits … but it does offer donors some level of protection and transparency.


Philanthropy and the conservative legal movement

Steven M. Teles’ book, The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement, describes the successful role philanthropy played on the right and left to bolster a legal movement advancing their causes.

Giving while living: Chuck Feeney closes Atlantic Philanthropies

Chuck Feeney is a model philanthropist with a demonstrated commitment to “giving while living.” At 89, Feeney has given away almost all of his fortune and closed his foundation.