A study commissioned by Google.org and conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University claims that less than a third of U.S. tax-deductible donations target those in need.
The premise appears to be that the philanthropic expression of concern for the "needy" is measured by dollars allocated to immediate services.
But the charitable dollar that is allocated to education but not to scholarships is not therefore a dollar to the needy. A dollar allocated to an art museum is not charity because it is not allocated to art lessons for the poor. A dollar allocated to global cultural understanding is not adequate because it is not allocated to existing relief needs like Darfur.
The conclusion is that, while all giving is to be admired, American philanthropy is not always that well-positioned to make a real difference on the societal commons.