10/16/2013 01:00 pm ET

The Dangers Of Shutdown Philanthropy


As the federal shutdown limps on, donors large and small have stepped forward with gifts to maintain shuttered government programs.

Laura and John Arnold provided $10-million to continue Head Start programs. The Fisher House Foundation worked with donors and the Department of Defense to ensure a timely payout of survivor benefits to families of fallen service members.

The Arnolds made clear that they don’t want government to think philanthropists can or should step in to provide the payments. Perhaps that is why the Arnolds made their contribution a loan that must be paid back when the shutdown ends, and Fisher House, too, is expected to be paid back.