As I wrote before, you are not supposed to receive anything of substantial value in return for a tax-deductible donation. Some Americans, rationally or not, value admissions for their children at some universities at more than $1 million. Non-profits must provide receipts for large donations. For Harvard and the "donor" to exchange a million dollar "donation" for an admissions spot, which can reduce Federal income taxes by about $400K (using a marginal income tax rate of 40%), is a big tax fraud. The honest thing to do would be to simply auction off a limited number of spots and do away with the pretense of charity.

Bloomberg, which sells expensive financial terminals to Wall Street, knows it audience.

Harvard's Not-So-Secret Admissions Factor: Donors Get a Boost
By Patricia Hurtado
October 18, 2018, 7:00 AM EDT

A Harvard dean was thrilled. The undergraduate college had just admitted the offspring of some wealthy donors, and now the money was expected to pour into the university.

"I am simply thrilled about all the folks you were able to admit," David Ellwood, then the dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, wrote to Admissions Dean William Fitzsimmons on June 11, 2014. "All big wins. [Name redacted] has already committed to building and building. [Name redacted] and [name redacted] committed major money for fellowships -- before the decisions (from you) and are all likely to be prominent in the future. Most importantly, I think these will be superb additions to the class."


In a second email, in which the names of students and family are redacted, a Harvard development officer discussed with Fitzsimmons the application of another student with rich parentage.

"Going forward, I don’t see a significant opportunity for further major gifts," the officer wrote. "[Name redacted] had an art collection which conceivably could come our way. More probably it will go to the [name redacted] museum.”

Athletes, especially those from wealthy families, are particularly coveted at a school with a $39.2 billion endowment, or so it seems.

In an October 2014 email, the school’s former tennis coach thanked a dean for meeting a visiting applicant. "He was unsurprisingly thrilled to meet you," the coach wrote. “[Name redacted’s] family for some time donated [name redacted] to Harvard and two full professorships over the last few years."