September 2016

Does philanthropy have too much influence?

Volume 21 , Number 3

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September 2016

Does philanthropy have too much influence?

Volume 21 , Number 3

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Does philanthropy have too much influence?

The September 2016 edition of Alliance looks at the rise of philanthropic influence. In recent years, foundations have used their resources to effect change on diverse issues, a cause of satisfaction to those who see philanthropic impact as a holy grail (and to those who are sympathetic to the changes achieved). To guest editors Ingrid Srinath and Bhekinkosi Moyo in India and South Africa, philanthropy is an underused commodity. They paint a picture of hopes that more wealthy citizens will not only contribute their wealth but also empower civil society.

But should countries with emerging philanthropic capacity be careful what they wish for? Could something that seems desirable today become a source of harm in the future? Indian philanthropist Rohini Nilekani shares her concerns in an interview with Alliance editor Charles Keidan.

Ultimately, philanthropy’s influence depends on its freedom to operate, which in turn rests on the disposition of government and citizens. Alliance debates how ‘free’ philanthropy ought to be and how it should be managed and regulated.

The September 2016 edition also features an interview with Melissa Berman, president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and an analysis of why private banks offer advice on philanthropy. Finally, op-eds from Ewa Kulik-Bielińska and Timothy Ogden highlight the gathering storm for liberal civil society in Poland and philanthropy’s response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Special feature

What influence does philanthropy exert?

6 September 2016
Alliance magazine

There are increasing signs of philanthropy influencing policy and policy networks but, as yet, no overarching theory of how it does so. Philanthropic traditions vary, as do the political, social and economic contexts in which foundations operate. Influence can be exerted in different ways – not only through the ‘hard power’ of financial resources but also through the influence wielded behind the scenes and out of public view. It can be exerted by empowering others …


Nothing but in care of thee

In September 2011, Alliance devoted its special feature to the rise of the Gates Foundation. That feature was controversial. It highlighted concerns about the disproportionate power exercised by the foundation through its large size and limited accountability. Longstanding readers may also recall the not-so-subtle image of an 800-pound gorilla on the front cover. Five years on, it is not only the Gates Foundation that has grown in size and influence. Philanthropy itself is now centre stage. The art of philanthropy is complex – at times deft and subtle, at others forceful and muscular – something reflected in Shakespeare’s Prospero on …

Special feature


Engagement needs more time to prove itself

Julian Poulter

In the June issue of Alliance, Ellen Dorsey, Sian Ferguson and Clara Vondrich made the case for divestment of assets …

Climate change should be central to all philanthropy

Catherine Brown

As a participant in the Funders Initiative (run by the Environmental Grantmakers Association and the European Climate Foundation) at COP21, …

Act fast and fairly on climate

Florence Miller

Alliance’s June 2016 issue highlighted the tiny amount of philanthropic funding directed towards climate change: just 2 per cent of …

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