The morning plenary of Day Two of the Global Philanthropy Forum focused on Global Health with presenters from the Gates Foundation, the Global Health Council and the White Ribbon Alliance. For me, it illuminated a lot of the core tensions in philanthropy, what you might call philanthropy’s cognitive dissonance. Actually it would probably be better termed philanthropy’s lack of cognitive dissonance. The presenters were saying quite different things, often contradictory, yet no one seemed to notice.
The core of the issue was this: Tom Scott, Deputy Director, Global Health Policy and Advocacy Communications of the Gates Foundation, presented the Impatient Optimists campaign with a few videos and a series of points focused on the importance of telling stories. He noted that 75% of Americans polled by the foundation believed that there had been little or no change in global health in the last 25 years. As anyone who has seen the statistics knows, this is far from the truth. Global health is one of the big wins of the last 25 years. The Gates Foundation is therefore focusing on changing this perception by telling “better stories” in an effort to drive support for increasing the flow of funds to international development and particularly global public health.