March 2007

Philanthrocapitalism: myth or reality?

Volume 12 , Number 1

PDF - £10.00 Hard copy (£15.00)


March 2007

Philanthrocapitalism: myth or reality?

Volume 12 , Number 1

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This issue of Alliance looks at the emerging generation of donors around the world. There are many stereotypes of the ‘new’ donor – hands-on, impact-oriented, high-tech entrepreneurs, looking to apply the skills that contributed to their business success to their philanthropy. Matthew Bishop, writing in a special philanthropy supplement in The Economist in February 2006, coined the term ‘philanthrocapitalism’ to describe this set of characteristics. How well does it fit the world’s new donors? Guest editors are Olga Alexeeva and Matthew Bishop.

This special feature includes interviews with Vladimir Potanin and Rohini Nilekani and snapshots of new philanthropy around the world; feedback from a group of donors on a field trip to Ghana; and a round-up of the emerging philanthropic intermediaries. While Olga Alexeeva has some reservations about the philanthrocapitalist approach, especially about its reluctance to work with existing NGOs, Matthew Bishop stresses the great benefits to be reaped – provided constraints like the difficulty of measuring impact and ambivalence about transparency can be overcome.

This issue of Alliance also includes articles on funding for women’s rights: the work of the Charity Commission’s International Programme on NGO regulation in other countries; and the unintended consequences of international philanthropy – plus Stephen Pittam of Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust making the case for ethical investment.

This is the first issue of Alliance to be published by the newly established Alliance Publishing Trust (APT). From 1 January 2007, Alliance is published by APT in association with the Network of European Foundations and the European Foundation Centre.

Special feature

What is philanthrocapitalism?

1 March 2007
Matthew Bishop

What is philanthrocapitalism? There are a couple of definitions. First, a micro-level definition: it is a new way of doing philanthropy, which mirrors the way that business is done in the for-profit capitalist world. Entrepreneurs don’t just want to write cheques. They want to be hands on, bringing innovative ideas to scale by investing their time and energy – ‘venture philanthropy’. New intermediaries are emerging offering advisory services to help the rich get the best …


Let the good ideas drive out the bad

The word ‘philanthrocapitalism’ was coined only last February, by Matthew Bishop in ‘The Business of Giving’, an Economist special supplement on philanthropy. In this issue of Alliance, Bishop sums it up as ‘a new way of doing philanthropy, which mirrors the way that business is done in the for-profit capitalist world’. One year on, our Alliance special feature ‘Philanthrocapitalism: Myth or reality?’ aims to shed further light on ‘new philanthropists’ the world over. Are they philanthrocapitalists? Do they see themselves as such? While some of our contributors embrace the idea of philanthrocapitalism warmly, others don’t much like it or are …



The cost of driving blind

Kevin Starr

The guest editor of the last issue of Alliance, Michael Lerner (‘Light and shadow in organized philanthropy’), has this to …

The time of the missionaries is already over

Peter Walkenhorst

In his opinion piece ‘Steering clear of the missionaries’ in the last issue of Alliance, Michael Brophy longs for a …

‘Positive’ feminism just too cosy?

Anna Hartnell

Few would disagree that women bear the brunt of a vastly disproportionate share of global poverty. It is almost impossible …

Trust and then conversation?

Ginny Baumann

Thanks to Chet Tchozewski for his plea for more trust in our own judgment as funders and in the groups …

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