Public policy for philanthropyCatching the wave or creating a backwater?

Authored by: Susan D. Phillips , Steven Rathgeb Smith

The Routledge Companion to Philanthropy

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415783255
eBook ISBN: 9781315740324
Adobe ISBN: 9781317579717


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Philanthropy and the third sector are both undergoing significant changes, although seemingly taking different, perhaps contradictory directions. While the third sector continues to grow and diversify in terms of missions and revenues, philanthropy is becoming more concentrated with a smaller number of donors providing a larger proportion of giving and volunteering (CAF, 2012: 4). Many foundations and major donors, propelled by the movement to achieve greater impact, are concentrating their support on fewer causes and organizations, and in seeking financial, as well as social returns are turning to ‘social investment’ rather than traditional giving (Martin, 2011; Salamon 2014; Thümler, Chapter 23). Under pressures of austerity and philosophies of smaller states, governments are looking to private resources as substitutes for public spending (Milbourne 2014), yet the distribution of philanthropy remains highly skewed and poorly aligned with public policy goals. Philanthropy is increasingly transborder – whether through the massive international granting of Gates and other mega foundations, or the micro acts of purchasing goats on Kiva for impoverished families in developing countries. Yet, most third sector organizations remain localized, and many governments are reluctant to facilitate more transborder giving outside of humanitarian aid (Sidel, Chapter 16).

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