Philanthrocapitalism – preview

Michael Green and Matthew Bishop are the authors of Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World
(sometimes called Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich can Save the World).

They have been touring Australia recently, presenting to an invitation only crowd of high net worth individuals on the benefits of treating philanthropy as an entrepreneurial venture – in the style of Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner and Warren Buffett.

Unfortunately I didn’t score an invite to their talk in Melbourne, but you can listen here to a brief radio interview with Lindy Burns (which rather simplifies the idea of putting your philanthropic dollar to work with a strategic bent rather than just making a donation and hoping it helps).

I have the book in my hot little hand and will be posting a review/response in the next little while.

If anyone managed to get to their talks I would love to hear your views.

Do you think that philanthropists can create their own agenda to cure malaria, stop human trafficking, and provide clean water for everyone? and if so, how effective can this be? What are the implications for government responsibility?

I look forward to your views.

About ozphilanthropy

#Philanthropy. #arts Posts by Sharon Nathani, PhD candidate at the Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne focussing on philanthropic funders of the arts. Sharon's study is supported through an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
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8 Responses to Philanthrocapitalism – preview

  1. Malissa says:

    I would be keen to know if there are case studies in the book. Was it philanthropy that funded, for example, the eradication of smallpox?

    • Hi Malissa,
      I am just reading it now (the post was a preview) so I will look into the case studies aspect – but it certainly begins with the Gates’ desire to rid the world of malaria and “reduce deaths from acute diarrhea, pneumonia, tuberculoses and HIV/AIDS”. (Smallpox doesn’t appear in the index). The book also harks back to Andrew Carnegie and his “Wealth” essay published in 1889 and now available as “The Gospel of Wealth”

  2. Cat Fay says:

    Philanthrocapitalists have already shown that they can shape and push agendas, Gates for example has been criticised for pushing Malaria up the health tree – by simply adding his voice (and his money) he has changed the health agenda in many developing nations. I guess the book in many ways suggests philanthropists become philanthrocapitalists only when they are seeking to work at that agenda change level. It is important to remember that sometimes the best work of the philanthropist comes when they use their networks to influence change rather than simply putting the cash down on the table.
    I am often concerned when I hear people raise concerns about philanthropy working in a space where government should be and/or is working. Governments tend to have a lousy track record for supporting innovation and taking risks – this is meant to be what philanthropy does well (unfortunately it’s not always the case). Think of what we risk if we suggest that philanthropy shouldn’t support schools or school based education programs? Or health services for that matter? Thoughtful philanthropy should have no limitations.
    I look forward to your review.

  3. n_wells says:

    As tweeted earlier; What I learnt from the presentation.

    Firstly, understanding the donor mindset is important. If you are after the dollar without a value proposition you are finished before you start.
    Embrace failure by acknowledging to a donor the achievements and the not so achieved-ments. This was an important point. Why should not for profits think they have to paint their orgs as perfect when they operate in an imperfect world?
    Have a clear mission that everyone is aligned with.
    Keep strategy for the longer term issues and objectives. This is something I have rarely seen done well. Most think a long time is three years!
    Look for private sector partnering where the not for profit can bring the experience of a shared collective vision that everyone works to.
    I liked one quote during the presentations “15% of surveyed employees when asked if they were aligned with their Corporations mission/objective admitted to actively trying to undermine their Corporation.”
    Generally speaking the presenters and content was first class.
    Nice blog site by the way.

    • Thanks for this comment on the philanthrocapitalism presentation Nicholas.

      One thing to keep in mind is that in the not for profit sector 3 years IS a long time – mainly due to the way government and philanthropic funding is allocated (usually for one year or three years with no guarantee of a repeat performance or ongoing support) – so unless there is a sufficient corpus to begin with which allows an organisation to have the freedom to work towards a long-term strategic vision, most of the emphasis and effort is put into supporting the day to day and short term goals (especially in smaller organisations).

      I agree with you that clarity of mission is very important.


  4. Thomstac says:

    I think one of the other interesting points that Michael had during the presentation was the concept of the ‘political philanthropist’. Philanthropy tends to fly the flag of being able to be innovative and willing to take risks. Michael argued that if you really wanted to take a risk, and see large scale change and impact, you need to be willing to be political. This of course also often translates to being controversial.

    What does this mean in an Australian context? Definitely something to think about for those of us willing to take those risks…

    Looking forward to reading your review Sharon.

    • If successful capitalists are all about taking risks (calculated and business risks) – then obviously so too successful philanthrocapitalism.

      oh yes – and oh the pressure.

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