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September 2011

Living with the Gates Foundation

Volume 16 , Number 3

PDF - £10.00 Hard copy (£15.00)

How influential is the Gates Foundation? Is it really unique in size, scale and style? What impact is the 800-pound gorilla in the philanthropy room having not just on philanthropy but on the fields in which it works? Those are the questions we set out to explore in this issue of Alliance.

As guest editor Timothy Ogden points out, there are some common threads – relating to distortion of the fields the Gates Foundation works in; the power dynamics between Gates and other players, including other foundations; and accountability. While acknowledging the benefits of Gates’ massive expenditure on global health, several contributors express doubts about the domination of the global health agenda, the squeezing out of diverse approaches, and the difficulties of obtaining objective feedback.

The special feature includes Edward Skloot’s insightful analysis of the foundation; interviews with philanthropists Dmitry Zimin and Rogier van Vliet; an article drawing on the views of philanthropy advisers from around the world; and Gates CEO Jeff Raikes’ responses to some of the issues raised.

The September issue of Alliance also includes Lester Salamon arguing that volunteering is the most ignored form of philanthropy; Martin Brookes’ wish list for the field of philanthropy as he leaves New Philanthropy Capital; and further opinion columns, articles, reviews, conference reports and global updates.

Guest Editors' Article

How much difference is it making?

1 September 2011
Tim Ogden

Every autumn, an American university publishes a list of once popular items and phrases that fell out of standard use before the new class of students were born. For instance, a few years ago the list noted that incoming students probably hadn’t ever used cassette players. The intent is to remind professors and administrators that young people do not necessarily share many of our perceived cultural touchstones. Today, a discussion of philanthropic foundations’ role in …

 
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Editorial

Undermining the foundations of non-accountability?

It’s a truism that foundations lack accountability – unlike (democratic) governments and companies, which are at least in theory accountable to voters and shareholders. The justification for this – in the eyes of the philanthropy world, and presumably the wider world – is the assumption that foundations probably do quite a lot of good, and almost certainly don’t do any harm. Judging from many of the contributions to the Alliance special feature on ‘Living with the Gates Foundation’, the emergence of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is beginning to undermine this assumption. It’s not that Gates isn’t doing good, …

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The case studies on Husk Power and Greenlight Planet (June issue of Alliance) are great examples of the innovation that …

Onward, Ms Meyer!

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What a pleasure it was to read Bonny Meyer’s personal account of her journey to mobilize all her assets for …

The benefits of acting alone

Chet Tchozewski

The special issue of Alliance on donor collaboration (March 2011) was a bit of a shock. I expected the customary …

A different model of collaboration

Henry Walton

We recently read with great interest your March edition, which focused on the question ‘When does collaboration make sense?’ In …