Philanthropy put to the test

Caroline Hartnell

Although this is not a special issue about philanthropy and the financial crisis, it struck me, as I was finally putting the March issue of Alliance to bed, how many of the articles do in fact touch on this – not surprisingly.

In particular, it is the backdrop against which many meetings are being held – the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers Symposium on ‘Investing with a Climate Change Lens during Challenging Times’; a meeting in Brussels in January exploring the role for social banks in the overhaul of the financial sector; Grantmakers without Borders’ June conference, which will be looking for a ‘silver lining’.

The ‘five difficult choices for philanthropy’ that are the focus of our special feature ‘Which way now?’ are also framed in terms of the financial crisis. ‘As we move from an era of abundance to one of scarcity,’ writes guest editor Tim Ogden, ‘we will be operating in an era of severely constrained resources for the foreseeable future.’ In these circumstances it will be all the more necessary to make often painful choices. We would love to have feedback from Alliance readers on these five ‘difficult choices’, so please let us know what you think about the issues raised. We look forward to publishing your comments.

We are also proposing some new language for talking about social capital markets in light of the discrediting of the financial markets that have so long provided the models for the social sector. The language of the farmer’s market might be more appropriate, Jacob Harolds suggests.

But Alliance’s particular focus will be on how the global crisis is playing out in developing countries, which could all too easily be forgotten as foundations in North America and Europe turn their attention to the plight of low-income communities in their own backyards. We include reports from Brazil, Russia, India, Africa and the Middle East, and we will be including updates from these and other countries/regions throughout the year.

Alliance in colour!

Many readers over the years have said how nice it would be if we could have more photos in Alliance – and in colour. From June, we will have full colour throughout and many more photos! We hope this will make the different sections of the magazine more readily identifiable and make reading Alliance a more enjoyable, even colourful, experience.

Although Alliance will look different, the content will not be changing. Alliance will continue to be a ‘serious magazine’. This may sound like a contradiction in terms – magazines aren’t serious? – but I think it encapsulates what we want it to be: a publication that is accessible and easy to read but deals with important issues in a serious and critical way.


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Caroline Hartnell