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To Be Charitable

On the WSJ's op-ed page, Daniel Henninger looks at private-sector big shots like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett investing billions of dollars in philanthropy.

His concern? "Aficionados of philanthropy tell me the one thing that distinguishes expertise in business (or bridge) from expertise in philanthropy is that in philanthropy no one keeps score. It has no institutionalized bottom line. The very act of philanthropy is often its own validation."

It's a valid concern. And if Gates could bring business thinking and the concepts of measurement and accountability to the philanthropic world, that would be a greater contribution than anything else he might accomplish funding schools or fighting AIDS in Africa.

One philanthropist's good works are a drop in the bucket (even if we're talking about a very big drop), but more efficiency in that sector generally would be a sea change.