The Philanthropy Thinker

Philanthropy needs more debate, critical thinking and scrutiny. The Philanthropy Thinker – our online column launched in 2017 – holds up a mirror to the field offering viewpoints from leading philanthropy practitioners worldwide.

Our mission is simple: to give philanthropy the attention it deserves to help it do the most good – we hope you enjoy the view.  Charles Keidan Editor, Alliance magazine


Philanthropy Thinker pieces

July 2019 – Ellen Dorsey on how it’s Time to change the way we invest

May 2019 – Florencia Roitstein on how Philanthropy is about generosity, not self-redemption at taxpayers’ expense

March 2019 – Filiz Bikmen and Michael Alberg-Seberich on Making infrastructure future-ready

January 2019 – Halima Mahomed on Funding African movements? Philanthropic revolutions needed first

November 2018 – Krystian Seibert on Foundation transparency – how far should we go?

September 2018 – Amitabh Behar on how social enterprise is eroding civil society

July 2018 – Nora Lester Murad on philanthropic funding in Israel and Palestine – Philanthropy to Israel and Palestine – it’s time to change the framing

April 2018 – Clara Miller on how philanthropy needs to radically change to meet its potential  A Revolution of Capital

January 2018 – He Jin on improving Chinese grantmaking practice – Philanthropy in China: It’s time for the teachers to learn

December 2017 – Krystian Seibert on respectful philanthropy with indigenous communities in Australia – Walk with us, not over us: how to build philanthropy’s social license

November 2017 – Halima Mahomed writes from South Africa about philanthropy and tax justice – Global corporations avoid millions in tax – and philanthropy is benefiting!

October 2017 – Florencia Roitstein notes shortcomings in Latin America philanthropyLatin America: sharing philanthropy, not hoarding wealth

September 2017 – Lisa Jordan on the promise of private foundations  – Keeping faith with the promise of a private foundation

August 2017 – Filiz Bikmen on why the times call for resilient philanthropy in TurkeyKeep on, keeping on: resilient philanthropy in Turkey

July 2017 – Amitabh Behar’s wake-up call to Indian philanthropy – The needle has swung the wrong way: it’s time for India’s philanthropy reckoning


Ellen Dorsey is Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund, a private foundation focused on progressive social change. She has held a range of academic, philanthropic and non-profit leadership positions in the human rights and environmental fields, including directing the Rachel Carson Institute, launching the Human Rights and Environment program at Amnesty International, and serving as a senior environment officer at the Heinz Endowments.  Dr. Dorsey was awarded the 2016 inaugural Nelson Mandela – Graca Machel Brave Philanthropy Award and is co-author of New Rights Advocacy: Changing Strategies of Development and Human Rights NGOs.

Amitabh Behar is the CEO of Oxfam India and former executive director of the National Foundation for India. His areas of interest include governance and civil society, and his work focuses on topics relating to social action and government accountability. Behar is vice-chair of CIVICUS and convener of the National Social Watch Coalition, and was co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) from 2010-16. The Global Fund for Community Foundations called Behar ‘one of the leading experts on people-centred advocacy.’ He joined the board of the Global Fund for Community Foundations in 2015. Previously, Behar worked as the executive director of the National Centre for Advocacy Studies. Behar has written for Alliance on the topic of philanthropy and its role in a democratic India.

Filiz Bikmen is founding Director of Esas Sosyal, a family fund based in Turkey. She also leads grantmaking in Turkey for EMpower – Emerging Markets Foundation, which focuses on at-risk youth. She continues to provide strategic advisory for international foundations and is board member of the Interaction Institute for Social Change in Boston. Bikmen began her career as an organizational development consultant before being appointed executive director of the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV). AT TUSEV, Bikmen spearheaded a partnership with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) to reform Turkey’s Associations and Foundations Law and subsequently served as chair of ICNL’s board. Following TUSEV, Bikmen was founding Director of Programs and International Relations at the Sabanci Foundation from 2007 until 2013.

Lisa Jordan is a senior philanthropic executive with a twenty year career focused on social justice, impact and systemic change. She has served the largest foundations in the Netherlands, Porticus and the Bernard van Leer Foundation as top leadership and in the Ford Foundation as part of the management team.


Florencia Roitstein is co founder and director of Ellas: Women & Philanthropy and Director of the CSR School in Uruguay. Born in Argentina, she has also lived in the US and France, and worked in Japan and across Latin American and the Caribbean. Roitstein has been involved for more than 20 years in CSR, sustainable development and philanthropy working across government, corporations, media and civil society. She currently teaches at the University of San Andrés (Argentina) and at iaelyon School of Management (Lyon, France).


Halima Mahomed is an independent consultant whose work focuses on research and advocacy to strengthen the narrative, knowledge, practice and impact of African philanthropy. Over the last 16 years she has been closely affiliated with, amongst others, the Ford Foundation, TrustAfrica and the Global Fund for Community Foundations. She is also a member of Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace and of the Alliance Magazine Editorial Board. Halima has written extensively on African philanthropy, and holds a Masters in Development Studies, with a focus on social justice philanthropy.

Krystian Seibert is an Industry Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology, where he teaches strategic philanthropy and grantmaking. Before, Krystian led on advocacy for Philanthropy Australia, the peak body for the philanthropic sector in Australia. He was previously an adviser to a former Assistant Treasurer (Assistant Finance Minister) in the Australian Government, where he oversaw the delivery of major not-for-profit sector reforms such as the establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and the introduction of Australia’s first comprehensive statutory definition of charity, the Charities Act 2013.

He Jin served as a senior Program Officer in the Beijing office of the Ford Foundation from 2001-16, where he was in charge of a portfolio focused on access and equity issues in education. Before joining the Ford Foundation, he was Sector Coordinator for Human Development at the World Bank Resident Mission in Beijing, responsible for education, health and social protection projects. Prior to that, He Jin was the assistant resident representative (1994-2000) of the United Nations Development Program, Beijing Office, taking charge of social and rural development projects. He Jin obtained his PhD in education from Stanford University, and worked as a researcher at the World Bank in Washington DC before he returned China. Today, He Jin sits on the board of several Chinese foundations, and is on the faculty of the China Global Philanthropy Institute.

Clara Miller is President Emerita of the Heron Foundation, which helps people and communities help themselves out of poverty. Prior to this, Clara founded and served as President and CEO of Nonprofit Finance Fund. Clara serves on the boards of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, Family Independence Initiative, and StoneCastle Financial Corp. She is a board member of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and is a BridgeSpan Fellow. She was named to Nonprofit Times “Power and Influence Top 50,” several times and Inside Philanthropy’s 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy twice. In 2017 she was named Social Innovator of the Year by the University of New Hampshire.

Nora Lester Murad is a writer and activist. She is co-founder of the Dalia Association, Palestine’s first community foundation, and Aid Watch Palestine, a community-driven aid accountability initiative. She blogs at The View From My Window in Palestine and can be reached at @NoraInPalestine. Her first book, Rest in My Shade, is forthcoming from Interlink Publishing.