April 6, 2017

Did Trump give his Salary to the National Park Service out of the Goodness of his Heart?


President Donald Trump recently announced that he was donating his first quarter salary to the National Park Service.

On Monday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer presented a check for $78,333.32 to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg during a daily White House briefing.

In the 90s, before I retired from corporate life, I served on the boards of several not-for-profit corporations.

It was a time in which my respect grew for philanthropy and the ways in which it helped to keep the coffers of community service organizations filled.

I learned that the traditional definition of philanthropy was, “Love of humankind in the form of time, talent, and treasure,” and that people practiced philanthropy for different reasons: 

  • Kindness and concern for the common good
  • Desire to make a lasting, measurable change
  • Belief that with wealth came responsibility, and
  • A way to gain recognition, prestige, and power

When I read about President Trump’s donation to the National Park Service, a donation that he was giving with one hand while with the other hand taking money away, only one of those reasons came to mind—it was a way for him to gain recognition, prestige, and power.

But was I being fair in judging him? Could I find my way to a compassionate response?

Publicly at least, Zinke said he was “thrilled” to receive the president’s donation. Maybe I could take a cue from him.

I looked at the philanthropic grants and donations made by The Donald J. Trump Foundation as reported by Inside Philanthropy, and learned that President Trump’s giving has typically been contradictory. For example, he supports Gay Men’s Health Crisis while at the same time supporting the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

While I would have liked to view Trump’s $78,333.32 check as a gesture of good will alone, I cannot separate it from how much it reflects his personality—contradictory, scattershot, without focus, and leaving people to wonder exactly where he stands.

Back in the day, however, when I was the person on the other end of receiving such big checks from people with such big personalities, I remember all too well the many times I had to rely on an old saying:

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

In the end, it is the graciousness with which we receive a gift that counts more than whether there was any graciousness involved in the giving of it.


Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: Twitter

Editor: Nicole Cameron


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