What does it mean to make philanthropy better and how can it be done?
This essay identifies critical issues and themes that shape debates about philanthropy – both current and historical – and examines what these can tell us about how giving might be ‘improved’. Some of these issues reflect an interpretation of ‘better’ to mean ‘more good’ and raise deep moral and political questions that are unlikely to be answerable in any strict sense. Others, meanwhile, reflect an interpretation of ‘better’ as ‘more effective’- which, while by no means entirely objective, may lend itself more to achieving consensus and identifying practical actions.
Key issues and themes about what makes for ‘better’ philanthropy can be broadly grouped into four areas:
The essay explores each of these and what they mean for philanthropists and funders who want to make their giving ‘better’ – the questions they should be asking themselves and the practical steps they can take.