Wiring a new social economy

Reflections on philanthropy in the digital age

Authored by: Lucy Bernholz

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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Digital technologies are not just changing philanthropy, they are creating a new social economy. For several decades, we have defined philanthropy as the formal interactions between certain institutions (community organizations) and certain revenue sources (charitable dollars). While national definitions and incentives vary, the essential equation is of a set of institutionally defined interactions framed as either non-governmental or not-for-profit. These organizations, and these funders, have become synonymous with civil society. Technology is changing that. Today we use private resources for public purposes in multiple and diverse ways, many of which are flourishing on the backs of new behaviours made possible by technology. As the activities, institutions, and resource flows that constitute philanthropy shift, eventually the policy boundaries of the sector itself will need to be redrawn.

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