Hobson’s choice – tax and philanthropy

Charles Keidan

Too often, asking wealthy people to give more philanthropically or requiring them to pay more tax is presented as a binary choice.

But does it have to be this way? 

Graham Hobson is an unusually modest philanthropist who made his fortune through the sale of online photo printing company Photobox. In this issue, he explains why multi-millionaires should give more and pay more.  

The recent emergence of the Patriotic Millionaires movement in the US and its international counterpart, Partners in Progress, which calls on those with the broadest shoulders to pay more tax is especially significant. After all, as noted in our anniversary issue, there are five times more billionaires today than when Alliance was born 25 years ago. There are also signs that the message strongly resonates with the public and policy-makers and is a sure way for millionaires to not just do significant good but also gain respect and trust. More and better giving alongside a willingness to pay more tax is the key to philanthropy’s own credibility. Alliance hopes others will follow Hobson’s choice. 

The centrepiece of the final issue of our 25th anniversary year is our special feature on food systems philanthropy. Published in the aftermath of the UN Food Systems Summit and COP26, it’s clear that building a more sustainable food system is both critical to sustainable development and an area where philanthropy could play a catalytic and systemic role. 

Yet, as guest editor, Ruth Richardson notes, food systems have seldom been explicitly addressed in funding strategies despite billions donated to issues implicitly connected to food systems from environment and nature conservation to action on climate, planetary health and nutrition. The argument of this feature is that philanthropy should take a more systemic approach and ‘situate food systems transformation centrally in climate, biodiversity, hunger and health agendas’. 

Elsewhere in this issue, The Bridgespan Group’s co-founder, Jeff Bradach tells Alliance why ending racial disparities is the route to social justice in the US and beyond. What Bridgespan says matters: it advises MacKenzie Scott and other leading philanthropists so we can expect questions of racial justice to remain high on the philanthropy agenda in 2022. 

We hope you’ve been enjoying our anniversary series in print, online and at one of our 15 digital events this year. Thank you for making our 25th anniversary year such a special one – and for being part of the Alliance community. 

Charles Keidan is Executive Editor at Alliance magazine.
Email: charles@alliancemagazine.org
Twitter: @charleskeidan

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