Myths and Realities

Being launched this evening in the U.K. is Michael Edwards pamphlet…

Just Another Emperor? The Myths and Realities of Philanthrocapitalism

From his preface…“A new movement is afoot that promises to save the world by revolutionizing philanthropy, making non-profit organizations operate like business, and creating new markets for goods and services that benefit society.

Nick-named “philanthrocapitalism” for short, its supporters believe that business principles can be successfully combined with the search for social transformation.

The stakes are very high. Fifty-five trillion dollars in philanthropic resources are expected to be created in the United States alone in the next forty years. It matters whether these vast resources are used to pursue social transformation or just to address the symptoms of global problems.

And for the philanthrocapitalists themselves, it matters that they are seen to be serious about engaging with this question. If they aren’t, they may find themselves on the receiving end of the same kind of backlash that greeted previous concentrations of private wealth and power.

It is time for a different kind of conversation, less dominated by hype, more critical, and more open to evidence and dissenting voices. The result could indeed be a world transformed.”

The complete pamphlet is available here; principal funding was provided by Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action and The Young Foundation

Michael, a senior staff Director at the Ford Foundation, is one of the world’s leading thinkers on civil society. This pamphlet, written in a personal capacity, looks at the rise of major new philanthropic funds supported by people including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and critically examines some of the claims made by these philanthrocapitalists.

Asking if they represent a genuinely new kind of philanthropy the pamphlet examines the evidence for applying business models in the social sector and makes a series of recommendations on how they could best contribute to lasting social change.