Giving Compass’ Take:
• William Foster, writing for Stanford Social Innovation Review, discusses the potential benefits of unleashing big bets in philanthropy for greater social change.
• How can donors understand the impact of big bets better?
In 1993, there were 310 billionaires worldwide. Today there are more than 2,200, and their fortunes are collectively worth more than $9 trillion. This massive increase in the wealth of our world’s most affluent is creating shock waves across society. What does this wealth portend for society and social change?
Philanthropy is at the center of this story. Importantly, many of those with the greatest wealth are being explicit about their intention to spend their assets for global good, including 187 who have signed the Giving Pledge to donate at least half of their wealth. This is not a cultural dynamic to be taken lightly. For many civic leaders, social entrepreneurs, and advocates, such funding opens potential new horizons and presents opportunities to tackle longstanding problems that afflict millions.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for Impact Philanthropy, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and Impact Philanthropy.
At the same time, the philanthropy made possible by this increasing wealth has attracted vigorous critics. Some argue that philanthropy will have only modest effects yet serve to distract the public from scrutinizing deeper inequities that the wealthy intend to preserve. Others argue that rather than having only modest effects, the greater risk of such philanthropy is that it will change societies in major ways, and that doing so via private rather than governmental means is inherently undemocratic.
Philanthropy’s biggest gifts, what we call “big bets,” offer an important window into this debate. These gifts can help us understand what philanthropy is and is not doing. How many are focused on issues of poverty and justice? Are these wealthy donors giving nonprofits and communities the freedom to do their work? Can these gifts have significant and enduring impact? Could the number of big bets increase significantly?
Read the full article about unleashing big bets in philanthropy by William Foster at Stanford Social Innovation Review
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