Good v Bad Philanthropy

July 21, 2017 at 10:53 am Leave a comment

I recently attended an event where the topic of bad v good philanthropy was discussed. The provocation was those philanthropies (individuals or foundations) who hold 80% of the money – read Gates, Soros, Zuckerberg – hold all the power which creates an imbalance. Further provocation stated there is no accountability for their power or money and governments through philanthropic tax benefits support this imbalance.

This provocation is about “big philanthropy”, attempting or in reality, swaying public policy by virtue of their ability to provide private philanthropic support to programs they want changed and/or their public voice and advocacy being louder because of who they are and money they wield.

Let me say, I do not believe in philanthropy being “good” or “bad”. In my heart and more then 30 years of work in the sector, I believe all philanthropy to be good. It is donors’ right, inclination, passions, commitment to give where, when and how they choose. I serve as a catalyst to connect a donors values and interests to a mission they care about.  That goes for philanthropy of any size.

As to advocacy and public policy – good on them. Those of us working to make a difference in our communities and generous donors who support the work, know policy has to change to end homelessness and hunger, cure the sick, end racism and hatred, provide equitable education – just to name a few. While all that important advocacy is going on – by loud, big philanthropies, the nonprofit sector and our communities coming together – we still have to work on the ground providing support to the vulnerable. One cannot exist without the other.

Donors want to see and support big change. Donors, big and not, realize it requires action now and a long term commitment to advocacy – including putting the nonprofit out of business when a public private partnership has solved the issue.

I say good on any donor who is putting their charitable dollars and voice where they think they can make a difference to the community and in their heart.  They are champions for the vulnerable. If some voices are louder and bank accounts larger than others – welcome to the democracy of philanthropy. Someone needs to take a stand. You may agree or disagree – in the end it is the donor’s time, talent and treasure – they can and do give where, how and when they choose. As fundraisers, it is our role to work with them to pave a pathway that connects their passions to making a difference.






Entry filed under: Fundraising, Nonprofit fundraising. Tags: , , .

Philanthropic Research Since January 20 2017

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