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Author: Rhodri Davies

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Philanthropisms is the podcast that puts philanthropy in context. Through conversations with expert guests and deep dives into topics, host Rhodri Davies explores giving throughout history, the key trends shaping generosity around the world today and what the future might hold for philanthropy. Contact:
33 Episodes
In this episode Rhod talks to philanthropy adviser Emma Beeston and academic Dr Beth Breeze about their new book Advising Philanthropists. Including:What are some of the key elements of philanthropy advice?How much is philanthropy advice about objective, technical things (e.g. tax, structures etc) and how much is it about subjective things (about finding purpose, understanding values etc)?At what stage in their ‘philanthropic journey’ are donors most likely to seek advice?Where do donors tend to get philanthropy advice from? What impact does the source of the advice have on the nature of the advice?Is philanthropy advice normally a one-off or time limited service, or an ongoing relationship?To what extent do advisers see their role as neutral agents servicing the demands of donors vs active agents challenging them/shaping their approach? What factors make for a successful donor/adviser relationship?What does “success” look like for a philanthropy adviser? (i.e. more giving, ‘better giving’, both?)What are some of the biggest challenges/frustrations for philanthropy advisers? How common is it for private banks/wealth management firms to offer philanthropy advice? When they do, is this seen as a business proposition (i.e. by increasing client retention, strengthening relationships etc), or part of the company’s social responsibility?What are the core skills you need to be a philanthropy adviser?What is the relationship like between philanthropy advisers and fundraisers? Do the latter see the former as useful points of contact with wealthy donors, or unhelpful gatekeepers?What role can philanthropy advisers play in helping to manage the transfer of wealth between generations?Are there any signs that next gen donors are more or less willing to seek advice on their giving?Are next gen donors looking for the same kind of advice as previous generations or different kinds?How much power do advisers have to shape donor’s giving?Does this bring responsibilities (e.g. to be transparent about who they are, and what role they play?)How many advisers see it as part of their role to make donors aware of critiques of philanthropy and offer them ways of addressing them?Related Links:Emma and Beth's book Advising PhilanthropistsThe University of Kent Centre for Philanthropy Masters in Philanthropic Studies (where, if you enrol, you can get taught by Beth, Emma and me!)Beth's book In Defence of PhilanthropyEmma's websiteEmma on the Charity Impact Podcast with Alex BlakeEmma and Beth's guest article for Inside Philanthropy "Lifting the Curtain on Philanthropy Advising"Emma's blog for DSC, "Shedding some light on philanthropy advising"Rhod's WPM article "You’re the Philanthropist Now!: A roll-your-own adventure"
On this episode, as part of our occasional mini-series in partnership with NPC, we talk to Tris Lumley about open philanthropy: what it is, why it is important, and how we make it happen. Including:What is NPC’s Open Philanthropy project? How did it come about?How has NPC been putting some of its thinking about open philanthropy into practice?What is the difference between “outward openness” and “inward openness” in philanthropy?Do foundations (and donors) need to be more transparent? If so, why? (Is this primarily about making philanthropy more legitimate, or more effective/efficient?)What do they need to be open about? (e.g. income, spending, diversity of staff/trustees, how decisions are made etc).How can we make use of open data in philanthropy?Why might some funders be reluctant to be more open? Is this ever justified?Does philanthropy need to get better at valuing different forms of knowledge? How do you balance the value of experience and the value of expertise?Are there challenges for traditional grantmakers when it comes to bringing communities and people with lived experience into decision making processes?What does the focus on inclusion mean for our approaches to measurement?How important is core-cost and multi-year funding when it comes to making philanthropy more inwardly open?Is trust-based philanthropy more open (i.e. because it asks less of grantees in terms of reporting etc), or more closed (i.e. because it relies on developing trusting relationships and can therefore become cliquey)?Related LinksNPC's Open Philanthropy projectWhy Philanthropy Matters guides to Core Cost Funding and Measuring Impact.Philanthropisms podcast episodes with Angela Kail and Dan Corry from NPC.Philanthropisms podcast episode with Sadaf Shallwani.
In this episode we talk to historian and political scientist Claire Dunning about her book Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An urban history of inequality and the American state, and her work on the history of radical philanthropy in Boston. Including:-What are the “nonprofit neighborhoods” described in the book?-Can participation in nonprofits become an alternative to involvement in the mainstream structures of civic participation, rather than a route into them? Does this undermine the Tocquevillean ideal of voluntary associations as “nurseries of democracy”? -Is there any danger that in becoming partners with/agents for the state, nonprofits undermine their own ability to speak out? Is this due to active stipulation by state funders, or more through self-censorship by nonprofits?-Have government efforts to involve nonprofits been driven in part by a desire to bypass the scepticism that might otherwise have been aimed at big government-delivered welfare and social reform programmes? -To what extent was the involvement of nonprofits in programmes like the War on Poverty designed centrally (i.e. by Washington policymakers) and how much was a result of local implementation?-What does the history of FUND (Fund for Urban Negro Development) and BUFF (Boston Black United Front Foundation) tell us about the challenges of trying to use philanthropy to address deep-seated issues of racial inequality?-Is it ever possible to have truly “no strings attached “ giving, or are there always hidden strings?-What can history tell us about the risk that foundations and other funders co-opt social movements by deliberately introducing grant stipulations etc aimed to direct the focus of the movement away from controversial areas or soften their tactics?-What can the FUND/BUFF example tell us about current debates between donor-centric and community-centric fundraising? -What value can a historical perspective can bring to philanthropists, funders and non-profit professionals?-Are there limits to the utility of historical comparison in understanding the present? What should we take into account or be aware of?-What is the value of historical edge cases? Related Links:Claire's book Nonprofit NeighborhoodsClaire's article in Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly, " No Strings Attached: Philanthropy, Race, and Donor Control From Black Power to Black Lives Matter" (currently open access).Claire's 2018 paper "Outsourcing Government: Boston and the Rise of Public–Private Partnerships"Philanthropisms podcast with Emma Saunders-HastingsPhilanthropisms podcast with Tyrone McKinley FreemanPhilanthropisms podcast with Maribel MoreyWhy Philanthropy Matters guide to philanthropy & the welfare state
In this episode Rhod talks to Jake Ferguson and Vanessa Thomas, two of the Committee members of the Baobab Foundation - a new member-led endowed grantmaker that is seeking to address issues of systemic racism and intersectional injustice in the UK. Including:How did the Baobab Foundation come about? What has been the progress so far?Has the momentum behind addressing issues of racial justice that we saw in the nonprofit world following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 been maintained?Why have Black and minority-led organisations historically lost out when it comes to philanthropic funding?How is Baobab foundation trying to shift power to those who would traditionally have been seen as the recipients of philanthropy?Why has Baobab decided not to adopt a traditional charitable structure?How is Baobab trying to influence the way other funders work?Does the philanthropy sector in the UK have a diversity problem?Can Baobab play a longer-term role in offering a route into grantmaking for more people from Black and minority communities?Why is building an endowment such an important aim of Baobab?Can Baobab play a useful role as an intermediary in overcoming some of the barriers in relationships between more traditional/risk-averse funders and grassroots organisations/social movements?Are there challenges in trying to bring together different types of knowledge (e.g. lived experience and professional expertise)? How do you navigate these?Why was it important for Baobab to adopt a horizonatal, non-hierarchical structure?How can measurement be a useful tool for organisations that receive funding, and not just a means to reinforce the dominance of the funder?How can donors, funders and CSOs get involved with Baobab Foundation?Related Links:Baobab FoundationPhilanthropisms podcast with Sara Slaughter and Derek MitchellPhilanthropisms podcast with Derek BardowellPhilanthropisms podcast with Sadaf ShallwaniWPM article on charities and politics
In this episode we take a deep dive into the relationship between philanthropy and business. Commercial ventures have always played a key role in generating wealth for people to give away through philanthropy, but is there more to it than that? And what are the promises and pitfalls of trying to combine profit with purpose? Including:Does philanthropy need to be "more business-like"? What does this actually mean, and why has the idea  continued to be so influential?What can the history of fundraising show us about how charities have sometimes pioneered new commercial techniques?What sort of template do the Quaker business leaders of the C19th offer for how we can combine business with philanthropy?Why have marginalised communities often led the way in blurring the lines between commerce and philanthropy?Why did Milton Friedman object so strongly to the idea that businesses have social responsibilities, and how influential have his ideas been?Does the emergence of new corporate forms such as the B Corp suggest a new golden age of combining profit and purpose?Should we be wary of the claims of tech company owners that their commercial ventures produce more social good than traditional philanthropy?Will Yvonne Chouinard's decision to hand Patagonia over to non-profit ownership start a new trend among business-owner philanthropists?What can history and global context tell us about the pros and cons of non-profit business ownership?The surprisingly long history of social finance: what can Pliny the Younger's land deals, the collapse of the C18th Charitable Corporation and C19th scepticism about Octavia Hill's affordable housing plans tell us about the good and potential bad of impact investing today?Related LinksWhy Philanthropy Matters Guide to the history of philanthropy and businessWPM article "The Business of Philanthropy: Patagonia and non-profit corporate ownership"Roddy, Strange & Taithe (2018) "The Charity Market and Humanitarianism in Britain, 1870–1912" (Open Access online version)Milton Friedman's 1970 NY Times article: "The Social Responsibility Of Business Is to Increase Its Profits"Philliteracy Twitter thread on the history of social investmentPhilanthropisms podcast with Tyrone McKinley FreemanBrealey (2013) "The Charitable Corporation for the Relief of Industrious Poor: Philanthropy, Profit and Sleaze in London, 1707–1733" (£ Paywall)
In our last episode of the year, we take a look at some of the key issues and trends affecting philanthropy and civil society right now and offer some thoughts on what to watch out for in 2023. Including: The impact of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and possible recession on philanthropy, everyday giving and the work of charities.Polarisation and political division making it harder for philanthropy to engage constructively with criticism and the need for change. More mainstream media focus on philanthropy. (And therefore more scepticism and critique?)More big donors supporting efforts to develop everyday giving.A new generation of celebrities (Youtubers, sports stars etc) reclaiming the word “philanthropy” for themselves? What impact might this have on wider perceptions of philanthropy?More ultra-wealthy people make public pledges to give the majority of their wealth away. Blurring the lines between individual and corporate philanthropy more than everOngoing tensions between “strategic” and “trust-based” philanthropy.More donors and funders experimenting with models that enable them to shift power as well as money e.g. participatory methods, funding grassroots movements etc.Debates about balancing urgency and patience in philanthropy.Division in the Effective Altruism movement  in the wake of Sam Bankman-Fried’s downfall?Tainted donations: will more organisations reject ‘bad money’, or will they try to find ways of justifying taking it in light of pressures on finances?The balkanisation of social media in the wake of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.Is cryptophilanthropy dead in the water?Will nonprofits start to make use of new generative AI tools like Chat-GPT? What new possibilities and challenges will these bring?Will layoffs and restructuring across many tech companies open up an opportunity for nonprofits to recruit new talent and skills? Related LinksPhilanthropisms episode on the downfall of Sam Bankman-FriedDylan Matthew's Vox piece "How effective altruism let Sam Bankman-Fried happen"WPM Nov 2022 newsletterPhilanthropisms episode on the Cost-of-Living Crisis (with Angela Kail from NPC) Philanthropisms episode on platform philanthropyWPM article on Yvon Chouinard and PatagoniaWPM article on charities, campaigning and politics WPM article on Effective AltruismWPM article on Blackbaud and the NRARhod’s piece for NPC about AI and grantmaking
In this episode we take a look at a few of the biggest stories from what has been a notable newsworthy couple of weeks for philanthropy - focusing on the fallout from the spectacular implosion of crypto billionaire and high profile Effective Altruist Sam Bank-Fried. We also take a look at a big philanthropy pledge from Jeff Bezos and the latest on Mackenzie Scott's radical no-strings-attached big giving. Including:SBF:What the hell has happened in the SBF story?What impact might this have on wider efforts to promote the idea of cryptophilanthropy?Will SBF's downfall lead to further calls to clamp down on big money donations in politics, given his prominent support for the Democracts in recent years?Is it likely to mean more skepticism about philanthropic funding for journalism, given that some feel SBF's significant donations to news outlets led to him receiving less critical coverage?Does his downfall present an existential crisis for Effective Altruism (EA)?Should we distinguish between different ways of understanding EA: EA-as-movement, EA-as-ideology, EA-as-academic-field? What is the likely impact  on each of these?Do EA movement leaders have questions to answer about whether they were complicit in what was going on at FTX, or just naive? And what are the ramifications of either?Did SBF's EA beliefs lead him to adopt a radical "end justifies the means" view that allowed him to justify bad behaviour?Is this situation a killer blow for EA's "give to earn" idea?Scott & BezosHow excited should we be about pledges to give big in the future?What details do we have about what Bezos is actually planning to do?Why does the idea that "giving money away is hard" have such a long history? How is Mackenzie Scott challenging this idea?How should we understand "effectiveness" when it comes to philanthropy?Why has Bezos given $100m to Dolly Parton...?Related ContentRhod's Alliance Magazine piece, "Effectively over: What Does Sam Bankman-Fried’s downfall mean for philanthropy and Effective Altruism?"Vox, "Effective altruism gave rise to Sam Bankman-Fried. Now it’s facing a moral reckoning".SBF's ill-advised interview with Vox's Kelsey PiperEvan Huber's EA Forum post, "We must be very clear: fraud in the service of effective altruism is unacceptable"Why Philanthropy Matters article, "Why Am I Not an Effective Altruist?" Philanthropisms podcast on cryptophilanthropyPhilanthropisms podcast on the philosophy of philanthropyRhod's piece on "Marcus Rashford, Dolly Parton and public perceptions of Philanthropy"
In this episode, Rhodri talks to Sara Slaughter, Executive Director of the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation, and Derek Mitchell, CEO of Partners in Schools Innovation about their relationship as funder and grantee, and how they have worked together to move towards to a new focus on equity and justice. Including:How and why has Stone Foundation changed the way it does grantee convenings? What do they get out of it as a funder, and what do grantees get out of it?How difficult is it as a funder to convene without being directive?Do we need to shed some of the technocratic language that tends to dominate philanthropic funding?What is “radical humility” and why should funders embrace it?Do we need to redefine what counts as success and failure in grantmaking?Is racial injustice such a big/cross-cutting issue that it should not be seen as a cause area, but rather as something that is the responsibility of ALL philanthropic funders and nonprofits? What does this mean in practice?In trying to convince philanthropic funders of the need to shift power is it better to make a moral case (i.e., that they should do it because it is “the right thing to do”) or a practical one (i.e., that it will make them more effective as grantmakers)?Are there challenges for traditional grantmakers when it comes to bringing communities and people with lived experience into decision making processes?How do you balance the value of experience and the value of expertise?Is the process of giving power away uncomfortable by necessity?Is there a danger that even well-intentioned funders inadvertently distort the work of their grantees by virtue of the choices they make about what to fund and how to fund it? How can funders check their own power and thus avoid this risk?Is it always best to shift power? Or are there situations where funders should “lean into their power”, because they are better placed to undertake advocacy or influencing?How important is physical proximity in making trust-based relationships work? How can funders and grantees manage the tension between urgency and patience?Is philanthropy a reflection of those “circumstances of economic injustice” that Dr Martin Luther King identified, and therefore too often part of the problem? How can we make it be part of the solution?Related ContentSara and Derek’s comment piece for Philanthropy News Digest, “Building trust with grantees with ‘radical humility’”Grantmakers for Education’s case study on W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone’s grantee convenings, “Equity as a Verb” W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation websitePartners in Schools Innovation websitePhilanthropisms podcast with Sadaf ShallwaniPhilanthropism Podcast with Derek BardowellWhy Philanthropy Matters guides on core-cost funding, measuring impact, and short vs long-term
In this episode we explore whether it is always necessary to say thank you for a philanthropic gift, whether it might sometimes be problematic, and the implications of how we choose to recognise donations. Including:If we view  philanthropy as a duty of justice, rather than a charitable choice, does that mean we have a right to expect it and therefore don't need to be grateful?Does this apply to all philanthropy, or only to certain cause areas (e.g. inequality and poverty?)Is it just a pragmatic reality that we need to express gratitude to donors in order to keep them giving? Or does this sacrifice important principles? How does this relate to the debate over "donor-centric" vs "community-cnetric" approaches to fundraising?If a donor expects or demands gratitude for their gift, does this become a problem? (And conversely, if the thanks is freely given is that OK?)How has the expectation of gratitude historically been used as a tool of social control?Is it appropriate to show thanks to an everyday donor giving a small gift? If so, is it paradoxical to argue that we should show less gratitude to a major philanthropic donor?If donor/recipient relationships are more equal (e.g. as within mutual aid traditions) is it OK to show, or expect, gratitude then?Is it possible to have mutual gratitude even within uneqaul funder/recipient relationships?What can history and anthropology tell us about the relationship between giving, reciprocity and gratitude?Is an expectation that a recipient of a gift should reciprocate in kind better than an expectation of gratitude? Does this rule out gifts where there is no realistic prospect of reciprocating?What is the history of commemoration in the form of statues, plaques and naming rights?Does this represent a problematic institutionalization of expectations of gratitude, or is it a natural response to a generous gift (and a crucial fundraising tool?)RELATED LINKS:Philanthropisms podcast episode with Emma Saunders-HastingsPhilanthropisms podcast episode on tainted donationsPhilanthropisms podcast episode on the philosophy of philanthropyPhilanthropisms podcast episode with Ben SoskisJane Addams, "A Modern Lear"Video for "Charity" by Skunk AnansieEmile Beneviste, "Giving and Taking in Indo-European Society"Spencer Jordan's PhD thesis on Edward Colston:  "The development and implementation of authority in a regional capital : a study of Bristol's elites, 1835-1939"Philliteracy Twitter thread on the history of commemorating donors
In this episode, Rhod talks to Martha Lackritz-Peltier, General Counsel of nonprofit technology specialist TechSoup, about using tech to overcome some of the barriers to cross-border giving and the localization of international development. Including:What is the UN’s Grand Bargain? Why is this important?Why has it not been delivered on so far?Where does the reluctance of INGOs to cede control to local CSOs come from?Lack of trust/fear of fraud & mismanagement? Unwillingness to relinquish power? Force of habit?Not knowing how to do it?How does NGO Source aim to address this problem?Are the biggest challenges in gathering and providing data on NGO equivalency technical, political or cultural?How do funders and grantees use this data?What steps need to be taken to protect NGO data and make sure it is not mis-used?What responsibilities do platforms bear for the choice of which organisations do and don’t make it onto their lists? What are the key barriers to making a platform like NGO Source work at scale? (i.e. political/regulatory issues, buy-in from funders, buy-in from recipient orgs, technological challenges?)Are governments (in the US and elsewhere) actually keen to encourage and facilitate cross-border giving (given that it often results in reduced tax take in their own countries for benefits produced elsewhere)? #What is the most compelling argument for why governments should support cross-border giving?What barriers do international financial regulations (AML, CTF, sanctions etc) present to cross-border giving?Is there a danger that through supra-national bodies like FATCA, the US ends up imposing its own views and values on the rest of the world when it comes to philanthropy and civil society?What should we make of the promises of various new and emerging technologies (e.g. AI, blockchain etc) to “revolutionise” international development and cross-border giving?Is there a danger that technological solutions risk leaving behind smaller CSOs and grassroots organisations? Related LinksTechSoup's websiteNGOSource on TwitterMartha's article on "Due Diligence in an Increasingly Remote World"Philanthropisms podcast with Sadaf Shallwani from Firelight FoundationPhilanthropisms podcast on "The Platformisation of Philanthropy"Philanthropisms podcast on "Cryptophilanthropy: Boom or Bust?"
In this episode Rhodri is joined by Angela Kail (Director of Consulting at New Philanthropy Capital (NPC)) to take a look at the growing cost of living crisis in the UK (and beyond), and what means for philanthropy, grantmaking and the work of civil society organisations. Including:Impact on charity financesWhat will the impact of inflation be when it comes increasing costs (e.g. staff costs, energy, food, building materials, leisure equipment etc)?What impact will inflation have on decreasing the value of reserves or longer-term contracts/grants? Will any of the govt measures announced so far (e.g. capping energy bills) help charities? Are they enough? What will the impact of rising interest rates be on charities?  Will any of the govt measures announced so far (E.g. capping energy bills) help charities? Are they enough?Is charities’ ability to fundraise going to be affected?Increased demand for servicesWhere are we going to see the most acute demand for services in coming months?Direct support for those in poverty (e.g. food banks, warm spaces)Advice and help (e.g. CAB, specialist advice for those dealing with major illness, disability etc)Indirect effects (mental health, physical health, domestic violence etc)Impact on everyday givingWill we see fewer people giving, or the same people giving less?Is there a danger that levels of donations remains stable, but their value decreases in real terms as inflation rises? Does this mean we actually need to encourage more giving? And does this present a major challenge in the current economic climate?Impact on HNW philanthropyShould we expect any direct impact of the cost of living crisis on HNW giving? If so, is it likely to go up, or down? Is there potential for philanthropy to play a role in helping charities survive the cost of living crisis?What are the dangers of seeing philanthropy as a potential solution here? (e.g. is there a risk of validating policy decisions, or hiding the true impact of cuts?)What are the practical challenges? (e.g. Lack of knowledge/experience of HNW fundraising, unequal distribution of donors around UK, increased competition for fundraising)Impact on grantmakingWhat impact will inflation/interest rates etc have on grantmakers?Could funders be spending more from their endowments?Should funders add inflationary top-ups to existing gifts/grants?Would it help if funder simplified grantmaking processes?Why is unrestricted funding so importan? How can funders use data (from NPC, 360 Giving etc) to help ensure grantmaking is targeted at areas of greatest need?Related Links:NPC's Confronting the Cost of Living Resource HubNPC's annual conference NPC Ignites 2022NPC's Local Needs DatabankPro Bono Economics/CAF briefing on inflation and charitiesCAF polling on public intentions to reduce charitable givingFT article, "Charities underpin the UK’s social safety net as cost of living crisis bites"
In this episode we talk to political philosopher Emma Saunders-Hastings about her new book Private Virtues, Public Vices: Philanthropy and Democratic Equality and some of the big questions that philanthropy raises for philosophers and political theorists. Including:What is the distinction between distributive and relational concepts of equality? Many modern critiques of philanthropy focus on the former, but there is a rich history of exploring the latter (by people like John Stuart Mill, Jane Addams etc). Why have we forgotten this tradition? And why is it so important to revive interest in these questions?What should we make of examples where philanthropy is based on unequal relationships but still produces positive social outcomes? In terms of  relational inequality is there any difference between everyday donations  and those of big money donors? Or do both run the risk of perpetuating unequal relationships between individuals?Is rejection of the idea of gratitude on behalf of the recipient a necessary part of seeing philanthropy more as a matter of justice than of charity? Is there any danger that in doing so we lose something important about the reciprocal nature of giving? (Or, more pragmatically, that we lose an important part of what keeps people giving?)Can an increased emphasis on everyday giving help to counter concerns about the anti-democratic impact of big money philanthropy?Does philanthropy have any value as a “nursery of democracy” (a la Tocqueville)?Does a focus on this aspect of philanthropy dictate prioritizing particular kinds of activities or causes (e.g. volunteering rather than cash giving etc)?Do any of the efforts to make philanthropy more democratic by adopting participatory grantmaking or embracing traditions of mutual aid address the concerns raised in the book?Is Effective Altruism particularly prone to criticism that it is paternalistic and furthers relational inequality, since it prioritises measurable outcomes dictated by donors over  empowering recipients?What value can historical or philosophical perspective bring to our understanding of philanthropy?Do critiques of philanthropy too often confine themselves to the realms of ideal theory, or fall into the trap of comparing worst-case examples of philanthropy with idealized conceptions of government? How do you avoid this risk?Related Links:Emma's Book Private Virtues, Public Vices: Philanthropy and Democratic EqualityEmma's paper on Frederick Douglass and the campaign against the Free Church of Scotland's acceptance of money from slaveowners: “Send Back the Bloodstained Money”: Frederick Douglass on Tainted GiftsEmma's post on EA in a forum for the Boston Review: "Imposing conditions on gifts to poor people can be undemocratic".Philanthropisms podcast on "the philosophy of philanthropy"Philanthropisms podcast with Maribel Morey.Philanthropisms podcast on "tainted money"
In this episode we talk to Derek Bardowell,  CEO of Ten Years Time Ltd and author of new book Giving Back: How to do good better, We discuss why our understanding of philanthropy needs to shift from a mindset of charity to one of justice, and what this means for donors and grantmakers. Including:Why is the distinction between charity and justice so important, and what does it mean in practice?Is growing scrutiny of where philanthropic wealth has come from a good thing? What should philanthropic organisations be doing to understand and make amends for any links to historic racial injustices? Does philanthropy have a diversity problem?Are funders more effective when they reflect more closely the people and communities they serve? In what ways can they achieve this?Is racial injustice such a big/cross-cutting issues that it should not be seen as a cause area, but rather as something that is the responsibility of all philanthropic funders and nonprofits?What does this mean in practice for grantmakers? (e.g. supporting more grantees led by BIPOC leaders, promoting more BIPOC employees into positions of authority within foundations, acknowledging where philanthropic assets have been created in ways that exacerbated racial injustice, paying reparations etc?)Is there a danger of philanthropy being paternalistic, with decisions being made about communities rather than by them? How do we avoid this risk?Is the current enthusiasm for social movements reflective of a frustration people have that traditional nonprofits have failed to move the needle on issues such as the climate crisis or racial justice?Does the ability of social movements to be more overtly political, or to employ more challenging tactics (e.g. protest, direct action), give them an advantage over civil society organisations (CSOs) that might be more constrained by legal/regulatory requirements?Is there a danger of "preaching to the choir" about philanthropy reform? I.e. those who engage with the arguments are the ones who always would have “got it” anyway? If so, how do you get these arguments out to a wider audience?Related Links:Derek's book Giving Back: How to Do Good, BetterTen Year's TimeDerek on the Reasons to be Cheerful podcast with Ed Milliband and Geoff LloydPhilanthropisms episode with Tyrone McKinley FreemanPhilanthropisms episode with Maribel MoreyPhilanthropisms episode with Edgar Villanueva
In this episode we talk to Charles Keidan, editor of Alliance magazine, about why we need philanthropy journalism and what some of the key issues are in civil society right now. Including:Why is it important to have journalists focussing on philanthropy?Is coverage of philanthropy too focussed on the Global North (especially the US)? Is it possible to rebalance this?Is it possible to bring philanthropy journalism to a mainstream audience on a regular basis? If so, how does this need to be done?Could increased philanthropic funding of news media actually undermine journalism’s ability to hold philanthropy itself to account? (E.g. if outlets self-censor to avoid upsetting existing or potential funders).What are the key trends in philanthropy we should be watching? Is climate change now seen by philanthropists and funders as something that concerns them regardless of their charitable mission? Is growing scrutiny of where philanthropic wealth has come from a good thing?What should we make of concerns about “tainted donations”?Is it a challenge to get nuanced or balanced discussion about philanthropy issues in an increasingly polarised environment?Should philanthropy publications try to give space to as wide a range of views as possible, or is there a risk of "both-sidesing" issues?Related LinksAlliance Magazine websiteCharles's story in the Sunday Times (with Gabriel Pogrund and Katherine Faulkner) "Prince Charles accepted €1m cash in suitcase from sheikh" (Paywall £)The Alliance magazine article about the same storyThe recent opinion piece for Alliance by Simon Sommer, "It’s time to ditch the mantra of trust-based philanthropy"Charles's editorial response to that piece, "Is the trust-based philanthropy bubble about to burst?"Rhod's comment piece for the Beacon Collaborative, "Can we agree to disagree when it comes to philanthropy?"Philanthropisms episode with Teddy SchleiferRhod's 2018 piece for Alliance (with Fran Yeoman) "Philanthropy should fund the media for its own sake" 
In this episode we explore the long history of concerns that some money may be "tainted", and ask what this means for philanthropy now and in the future. Including:The history of tainted donations, featuring: St Augustine of Hippo, The Venerable Bede, St Thomas Aquinas, The Paris Guild of Prostitutes, Frederick Douglass, George Cadbury, George Bernard Shaw, The Salvation Army, J. D. Rockefeller, Mark Twain and G.K. Chesterton.Is a donation only tainted if the method of wealth creation is ethical questionable, or can it be tainted by association becasue a donor is problematic for some other reason?How have views about what kinds of wealth creation are or aren't ethically acceptable changed over time?Is there a statute of limitations of any kind on tainted money, so that after a certain period of time it is deemed OK despite any problematic connections?Is it enough to acknowledge when wealth is based on past injustices such as slavery, or do active reparations need to be made? How does this work in practice?Should we distinguish between critiques of individual tainted donations and systemic critiques of wealth and capitalism as a whole?Who decides whether a donation is tainted?Is it better to take tainted money if the charitable activity being funded addresses the ethical concerns arising from the wealth? (E.g. using money from the gambling industry to address gambling addiction). Or does this increase the chance of reputation laundering?Does acceptance of a gift in reality always imply condoning the source of wealth?Are concerns about tainted donations greater when the donor is getting recognition for the gift? Would it be better if such gifts were entirely anonymous?Is it more acceptable to accept money from a tainted source if no strings are attached? Is this another argument for core cost funding?Is new technology bringing new challenges when it comes to identifying and assessing the sources of donations?Related links:Philliteracy thread on the history of tainted donationsRhod's article on "A Brief History of Satirising Philanthropy"Philanthropisms episode on Platform PhilanthropyPhilanthropisms episode on CryptophilanthropyPhilanthropisms episode with Ben SoskisEmma Saunders-Hastings's article “Send Back the Bloodstained Money”: Frederick Douglass on Tainted Gifts"Julie-Marie Strange & Sarah Roddy's Paper "Banking for Jesus: Financial Services, Charity, and an Ethical Economy in Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain" George Bernard Shaw's "Preface to Major Barbara, with First Aid to Critics"Teddy Roosevelt's "Man With the Muckrake" speech Curb Your Enthusiasm, "The Anonymous Donor" Part 1 and Part 2.
In this episode we discuss the links between religion, faith and giving with David P. King, Karen Lake Buttrey Director of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Lilly Family School on Philanthropy at Indiana University- Purdue University, Indiana. Including:How important a part does faith play in motivating and shaping approaches to giving in the modern world?What role has it played historically?When it comes to faith as a factor in philanthropy, what is most important:Observance of specific religious requirements to give (e.g. tithing, Tzedakah, Zakat)?Broader religious teachings on ethics & responsibility?Attendance at places of worship?A sense of shared religious identity?How do religious teachings on the nature of poverty and justice affect the likelihood of their followers giving and the ways in which they give?Are we seeing a decline in faith in places like the UK and the US, or simply a shift away from organised, collective religion to more informal, individual spirituality? What impact might this have on giving?Are places of worship important in maintaining cultures of giving?To what extent is this because of their religious nature and to what extent is it simply because they are community buildings that bring people together, or act as a location for grassroots/informal activity?At a time when secular community spaces are becoming fewer, do places of worship have an increasingly important role to play as community anchors? Are they  embracing this role, and how?How much of the giving that goes towards religion in the US is for the maintenance of religious institutions themselves, and how much gets passed on into wider charitable activities?What role has faith (especially missionary faith) played in shaping the field of international development and humanitarian aid?Does faith still play an important role today? (E.g. given that quite a few major INGOs have religious roots, and are ostensibly still religious orgs)Does the academic study of philanthropy and civil society need to do more in terms of taking into account the role of faith groups?What challenges does this pose? (i.e. Different literatures/concepts, specialist knowledge of the structures of religious orgs required etc?).Related Links:The Lake Institute on Faith and GivingDavid's profile page at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, IUPUIDavid's 2017 Conversation article "Why Faith Inspires People to Give"David's blog for Lilly Family School of Philanthropy "Giving 2021: Pandemic lessons and the future of religious giving"David's HistPhil article, "Religion’s Role in International Relief and Development: World Vision and the Age of Evangelical Humanitarianism".Philanthropisms podcast episode with David's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy colleague Tyrone McKinley Freeman
In this episode we take a look at the opportunities and challenges that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology bring for giving and ask: is cryptophilanthropy a boom market, or a busted flush? Including:Is the resurgence of interest in cryptophilanthropy  in the last 18 months partly to do with the enforced digitisation many of us went through during the pandemic?At the same time, what do recent decisions by organisations like the Wikimedia Foundation and WWF to dial down or abandon their cryptophilanthropy activities tell us about the state of the market?Who are the crypto-donors? Is it mostly platform/exchange owners, early adopters who have made millions, or are those with more modest crypto holdings also getting involved?Can we tell anything from the culture and ideology of crypto communities about their approach to giving and their views on charities?Is crypto genuinely useful as a way of getting resources into difficult places (e.g. Ukraine), or is there always a "last mile" problem?Does crypto bring the possibility of radical transparency? Is this a good thing?Is cryptophilanthropy sometimes used as a tool to drive wider crypto adoption that benefits the donors?Are NFTs just a bubble that charities should avoid, or is there something genuinely interesting about unique digital objects?How can charities avoid the volatility risks of crypto?What new challenges does the semi-anonymous nature of crypto bring when it comes to donations?Should environmental concerns be a reason for charities to avoid crypto?Is the crypto world just too full of "general scaminess"?Does the crypto world view promote the idea that we can do without trust, and should civil society instead be trying build trust?Can blockchain overcome the known limits of non-hierarchical organisation, or are we simply going to rediscover old problems in new guises? Related TopicsRhod's work on crypto and blockchain for CAFRhod's 2019 ARNOVA Conference Paper "Networking Opportunities: Rediscovering Decentralisation in Philanthropy and Civil Society?"Rhod quoted in the Wall Street Journal this year, "Why some charities are rethinking cryptocurrency donations"Philanthropisms podcast 2022 PredictionsThe Giving Block Annual Report 2021Current Affairs  interview with Nicholas Weaver:  "Why This Computer Scientist Says All Cryptocurrency Should “Die in a Fire”Rhod quoted in Civil Society UK "Crypto-philanthropists: Friend or foe to charities?"  
In this episode we talk to Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, IUPUI about his book "Madam C. J. Walker's Gospel of Giving: Black Women's Philanthropy During Jim Crow" and about the history and current context of Black philanthropy. Including:Madam C. J. Walker:Who was Madam C. J. Walker, and why is she such an important figure in the history of philanthropy?Was what she represented- as a role model of an independent, successful Black woman who used her position to speak out and support others- just as significant as the monetary value of her donations?Blurred Lines Madam Walker's story highlights the fact that Black communities have often not had the luxury of distinguishing between philanthropy, commerce and politics, as they have been forced to use all tools at their disposal to further their aims. Is this blurring of the boundaries something we could learn from today?Madam C. J. Walker’s giving is distinct from many other major historical philanthropists in being grounded in traditions of mutual aid rather than charity- how did this shape her approach, and what could we learn from this today?Civil RightsHow important a focus for Madam C. J. Walker’s philanthropy was civil rights?  Where does she fit in the debate between accommodationists and those arguing that the goal should be equality whilst retaining a distinct Black identity?EducationWhy was education such an important part of Madam Walker’s philanthropy?Does her support for Black educational institutions confuse the dominant narrative that positions many of these institutions as tools for white social control?Women's PhilanthropyTo what extent has philanthropy helped to equip Black women with skills and tools for wider civic engagement? Has this led to engagement with issues of women’s rights?The Role of PhilanthropoidsHow did Freeman B. Ransom shape Madam C. J. Walker’s philanthropy? Did he merely interpret her wishes and goals, or can we only understand her philanthropy by taking into account his role too?The History of Black PhilanthropyIs there a distinct field/practice of Black philanthropy? Does a proper understanding of the history of Black philanthropy require us to broaden our viewpoints and definitions about what should count as “philanthropy”? Who are the other key Black philanthropists from history that we should be paying attention to? Is there an ‘archival inequality’ because a lot of philanthropy in black communities historically took place outside the boundaries of formal organisations and is thus less likely to be captured in records? Related Links:Webiste for "Gospel of Giving"Tyrone's IUPUI profile pageTyrone's HistPhil piece, 7 Ways to Read around the History of Philanthropy’s Diversity Problem this Black History MonthTyrone's paper with Kim Williams-Pulfer "Liberating the Archive, Emancipating Philanthropy: Philanthropic Archival Layering as a Critical Historical Approach for Researching Voluntary Action in Marginalized Communities"Philanthropisms podcast with Maribel Morey talking about her book "White Philanthropy"
In this episode, in light of recent high-profile disasters in places like Ukraine, Afghanistan and Tigray, we take a look at the long-standing relationship between philanthropy and disaster response. Including:History:The history of disaster response philanthropy: from 16th Century "charitable briefs" in response to fires and floods to the emergence of the Disasters Emergency Committee and the rise of celebrity-led disaster appealsWhat has been the relationship between one-off disaster appeals and efforts to encourage regular giving?How did fundraisers of the past use published donor lists to name and shame people into giving?Has disaster response philanthropy always been a cross-border affair?How has perception of victims of disasters shaped philanthropic response throughout history?Why has slowness in distributing funds always been a source of criticism?How have paternalistic and judgmental approaches to distribution led to to resentment and even riots?Psychology & EconomicsWhy does the "identifiable victim effect" mean that it is often better to focus on individual stories rather than statistics?Can giving people too much information about a disaster actually decrease their giving?What is the "bystander effect" and why does it lead people to give less when in groups?How does out perception of disasters as "natural" or "man-made" affect our willingness to give?Current ContextWhy is the Ukraine war receiving more attention than other disasters e.g. Tigray, Afghanistan? Is there a racial element?Why do people prefer to give goods, and why don't most NGOs want this?Are donations of weapons philanthropy?How are people using technology to disintermediate disaster philanthropy (e.g. "donating" via Airbnb,  giving cryptocurrency)? What concerns should we have?Is it helpful to depoliticize disasters, or does it deflect attention from what is truly necessary to deal with some situations?Can we ever shift from disaster response to long-term development and prevention?Related Links:Philliteracy thread about the history of disaster relief fundsReading list on history of disaster relief fundsRoddy, S., Strange, J., & Taithe, B. (2019).The Charity Market and Humanitarianism in Britain, 1870–1912 Zagefka et al (2012). Eliciting donations to disaster victims: Psychological considerations. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 15(4), 221-230.Brown, P. H., & Minty, J. H. (2008). Media coverage and charitable giving after the 2004 tsunami. Southern Economic Journal, 75(1), 9-25.Eckel, C., Grossman, P. J., & Milano, A. (2007). Is more information always better? An experimental study of charitable giving and Hurricane Katrina. Southern Economic Journal, 74(2), 388-411.Scharf, K. A., Smith, S., & Wilhelm, M. (2017). Lift and shift: the effect of fundraising interventions in charity space and time.
In this episode we talk to Sadaf Shallwani, Director of Learning and Evaluation at the Firelight Foundation, about funding systems change, supporting grassroots communities and shifting power dynamics within philanthropy. Including:How did the Firelight Foundation come about, what is its core mission, and what is distinctive/unique about its approach?Why is "traditional aid broken"?Why is the distinction between charity and justice or solidarity so important to Firelight's work? Does a focus on justice and solidarity require taking a different approach to philanthropy? What does this mean in practice?How can we ensure that power and decision making within philanthropy is shifted towards the people and communities who would have been seen as the traditional ‘beneficiaries’? (E.g. through participatory means?)Is the strongest case for shifting power a moral one (i.e. it is the "right" thing to do), or a pragmatic one (i.e. it produces better outcomes)?Can “funder ego” or a “saviour mindset” present barriers to genuine efforts to share power?What kind of challenges are there for traditional grantmakers when it comes to bringing communities and people with lived experience into decision making processes?How big a risk is there that foundations and other funders co-opt social movements or grassroots CSOs by deliberately introducing grant stipulations etc aimed to direct the focus of the movement away from controversial areas or soften their tactics? How do we avoid this risk?Why is core-cost and multi-year funding so important when supporting movements? Are we seeing more funders recognise this and adapt the way they fund?Can we find forms of philanthropy that are genuinely able to support fundamental reform to the very systems in which wealth has been created? What are some of the hallmarks of this type of philanthropy?How can funders strike the right balance between taking a trust-based approach and not placing unnecessary reporting burdens on grantees, and having sufficient measurement to ensure they still know their funding is working?How can funders design impact measurement approaches with their grantees to ensure they are genuinely empowering and beneficial rather than imposing a new burden?Related Links:Firelight Foundation's websiteFirelight's report on Community-Driven Systems ChangeSadaf's Alliance Magazine article on Community-Drive Systems ChangeSadaf's personal websiteRhod's article "Language Barriers: why the ways in which we talk about philanthropy & civil society are holding us back"
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