Salzburg initiative to shake up philanthropic practice

Urgent need, global wealth and rapid innovation have created a unique opportunity for institutional philanthropy to become a powerful force for change and progress across the globe, but that promise is not currently being realized. This is the context in which the Salzburg Global Seminar has launched a new initiative on Optimizing Institutional Philanthropy for the 21st Century.

Philanthropic institutions are not functioning optimally, constrained by policies, accepted practice, and legal and structural limitations. While there are new actors challenging old practice, traditional institutions, and so many of the structures and policies that guide them, remain relatively stagnant. These were among the problems identified by the 25 experts and thought leaders from different regions who came together in Salzburg in December to identify the constraints to innovation and bold practice in philanthropy and the major challenges philanthropy will be called on to address in the next 20 years.

A proposed framework for action emerged for the Initiative along the following lines:

  • to advance a positive and enabling regulatory environment for global institutional philanthropic work;
  • to design information systems to track philanthropic capital flows and aggregate information on the impact of those investments;
  • to link this data to larger systems tracking global capital flows and social indicators to create a holistic picture of need, gaps and impact;
  • to challenge current assumptions and encourage a ground-breaking assessment of philanthropy’s focus and future place in society, including a course of research related to institutional structures, rules and practice for the 21st century.

For more information
Contact Nancy Smith at Salzburg Global Seminar at
For a meeting summary, prepared by Paula Johnson, go to

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