‘It is difficult to keep your feet on the ground when working in a foundation because you are inevitably placed in a position of power,’ writes Stephen Pittam, former secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and guest editor for the Alliance special feature on ‘Philanthropy and power’. ‘With money comes power,’ he goes on. ‘And, as the saying goes, power corrupts. As time went on, I grew more accustomed to living with that power but I also grew increasingly uncomfortable about some of the manifestations of the power relationships that philanthropy engenders.’
The power imbalance between funder and funded is a perennial thorny issue. Can power be shared with grantees, beneficiaries and other stakeholders? Sophie Pritchard’s article analyses different power-sharing models, followed by a range of examples from Central America, Northern Ireland and elsewhere, while Shami Chakrabarti offers a ‘view from the other side’, ie the grantseeker’s perspective.
How can philanthropy best use the power that increased resources bring in what is being hailed as the second golden age of philanthropy – also a time of growing inequality? The special feature includes interviews with two foundation leaders, Theo Sowa of the African Women’s Development Fund and Luc Tayart de Borms of Belgium’s King Baudouin Foundation; Halima Mahomed and Bhekinkosi Moyo writing on power and philanthropy in Africa; and Albert Ruesga on poverty and wealth in New Orleans.
Richard Murphy takes on the contentious issue of tax: when so much wealth accumulation is associated with tax avoidance and tax havens, how can philanthropy tackle inequality and other issues, often created by these same structures?
The September issue of Alliance also includes Alex Jarman on government support for social investment in the UK; Christopher Worman on the overlooked virtues of Small Data; ICNL’s round-up of threats to civil society funding around the world; and Nicholas Borsinger on the wider lessons to be drawn from a damning report on wells in Sierra Leone.
View the full list of contents on the Alliance magazine website
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