An interview with Charles Keidan of Alliance magazine




Alliance magazine Editor Charles Keidan is interviewed by WINGS to discuss the special feature on philanthropy infrastructure in June 2018 issue guest edited by Benjamin Bellegy and Maria Chertok.

1. Is this the first time Alliance is doing a special feature on philanthropy infrastrusture? Why now? Why is it an important enough topic to feature philanthropy infrastructure in the June edition of Alliance?
Alliance has always played close attention to philanthropy infrastructure but this is the first time we have covered the issue in such depth, at least during my time as editor. The idea for a special feature on the topic actually came from our editorial board member (and WINGS chair) Maria Chertok at last year’s EFC gathering. Her suggestion was met with resounding support from fellow board members. That said, there were some robust discussions about the direction of the feature, and some divergent views about the extent to which we should focus on digital infrastructure – what we might call ‘the infrastructure behind the infrastructure.’ These views are reflected in the issue.

More broadly, it’s clear that global philanthropy is reaching a high water-mark and there are some urgent questions about whether the infrastructure of support for the sector is fit for purpose, sufficiently well-balanced geographically and financially sustainable. Benjamin and Maria are helping to set a new intellectual agenda on all these questions so they (and WINGS) were an ideal partner for Alliance for this issue.

2. What surprised you or what is changing in the field of infrastructure based on the special feature? What are the main highlights from the special feature that you can share with us?
It’s been just over five years since I directed a foundation and, even in that time, it’s amazing to see the growing diversity, sophistication and professionalisation of the field. Philanthropy development is a much more mainstream issue.

There’s lots of superb material but for this feature, more than most, I’d encourage readers to pay close attention to what the guest editors are saying. They have clearly thought deeply about the topic and are not shy about offering some strong opinions!

3. What does #LiftUpPhilanthropy mean to you? How can #LiftUpPhilanthropy be made a truly international movement or effort/campaign/a key issue on the strategic agenda of philanthropy?
What I like about the idea of lifting up philanthropy is that it conveys something broader and deeper than just encouraging people to give more. Of course, giving more is important but the thinking which underlies the campaign is much deeper and more reflective. For me, #LiftUpPhilanthropy conveys philanthropy’s potential and possibilities, but without losing sight of the questions about its own conduct and practices which it can and must tackle.

4. Share with us one challenge and one positive take-away/observation that you are seeing in the field now.
My main challenge as Alliance editor is having the editorial resources and capacity to keep pace with the exponential growth of the global philanthropy field. That said, it’s good to see independent non-profit philanthropy media like ours being increasingly recognized as part of the ‘philanthropy infrastructure’. The philanthropy media at its best should be a critical friend and aim to hold up a mirror to the field. I see the potential for us to do much more and much better if only we had more tools at our disposal.

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