Shifting gears on philanthropy studies

Juliet Valdinger

Hallelujah! I rarely jump up and down with excitement when something is posted through my front door but indeed that is what happened when the March 2017 edition of Alliance arrived in my hands.

Having worked for charities, for funders and been in the academic throes of the philanthropy space for the last four years, I can say with absolute confidence that this edition (and Alliance in general) has boldly gone where not many publications nor people have gone before.

Its global reach means that it is educating so many of us, not only to learn we have peers in other countries we didn’t know existed, but that there are so many of us. The philanthropy platform is overspilling with opportunities.

Of course, there are challenges ahead that both Charles Keidan and Tracey Coule acknowledge and discuss, and I found the task of ‘translation’ that Tracey described as the most pertinent at hand. In all relationships, human-to-human, animal-to-animal, funder-to-fundee, social enterpreneur-to-investor, academic-to-practitioner, it is always the lack of clarity of needs, ambitions and expectations that lead to a bumpy pathway ahead.

But it’s a bumpy pathway not a cliff face ahead of us. Let’s go ahead together in second gear rather than leaping straight into fourth with our silo-ed strategies, which will only hinder and disrupt the achievement of our shared ambitions.

Juliet Valdinger is a philanthropy consultant.

Also on this topic of philanthropy studies, see ‘Welcoming the evolution of philanthropy studies‘ by Michael Liffman. And also in the June issue, Keiran Goddard of the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) contributes to the debate on foundation payout rates.


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