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The cost of giving

   Who knew it could cost so much for foundations to give away money?

   They all pay accountants.

   Most fork over money for taxes.

   At some fortunate foundations, the founders are still alive and adding new money every year. The rest, however, hire investment advisers to preserve and build up their assets.

   And then there are the trustee costs.

   Eight of the 10 biggest foundations pay salaries to their boards or key employees.

   But so do many small foundations, even those with less than $1 million in assets.

   Trustee expenses topped costs at a dozen foundations.

   Bernard Tolbert, the former head of the FBI's Buffalo office who is now in charge of security for the National Basketball Association, serves as chairman of the Statler Foundation's board, where he makes $16,500 a year, along with the other trustees.

   He travels from his home in New York City once a month to attend foundation meetings in Buffalo, and puts in many hours every week beyond that on Statler work, he said.

   "I don't think anyone does it for the money,"  he said. "If that's the case, we'd be better off getting a job at McDonald's."

   Pablo Eisenberg, with the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, says boards tend to be filled with "high power, higher paid professionals."

   "It's just an outrageous thing that these wealthy folks should get paid for doing their civic duty," Eisenberg said.

   Do you agree? Or do those entrusted with hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even millions, deserve to be paid?

   --- Patrick LaKamp


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