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The idea that the targeted largesse of the super-rich can unlock the problems of global development and progress is a potent influence in the world of philanthropy, business and government. How valid is it?
Michael Edwards opens a new debate with a searching scrutiny of the arguments for extending business principles into the worlds of civil society and social change.
People with more than enough have an immediate and personal obligation to help those living in extreme poverty, says Peter Singer.
(This article was first published on 11 May 2009)
Michael Edwards's book on business-led philanthropy, "Just Another Emperor?", launched a vigorous public debate across the non-profit sector and beyond. Now, in an environment transformed by the global financial crisis, he reviews the arguments the book provoked, responds to critics, and reaffirms the importance of a "civil-society-strong" perspective in face of "a tsunami of pro-business thinking".
(This article was first published on 14 November 2008)
The super-rich new philanthropists want change. But their can-do know-how quick-fix solutions won't work in a world of systemic inequality and injustice, says Kavita N Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women.
Individual experiences shape the character of giving, and the power of collective action is more easily lived than taught. Can the new philanthropists discover its potency, asks Karen Weisblatt.
The aims of social-justice philanthropy require grantmaking organisations to align principle and practice from within, says Colin Greer of the New World Foundation.
The future of philanthropy lies in joining the wave of open source peer-production that is enriching public assets, says Mark Surman.
In viewing philanthrocapitalism through too narrow a lens, Michael Edwards misses how a business-based philanthropy can deliver sustainable social benefits, says Stewart J Paperin of the Open Society Institute.
Michael Edwards's critique of philanthocapitalism underplays how far a world of interdependency creates opportunity for civil society to force business into embracing social and legal progress, says Simon Zadek of AccountAbility.
The sceptical scrutiny of "philanthrocapitalism" by Michael Edwards is welcome. But markets and social enterprise could help realise the potential of a new donor economy, says Geoff Mulgan.
Much of Michael Edwards's critique of "philanthrocapitalism" could equally be directed at the large established foundations, says Gara La Marche, who advocates a more active role in the "evaluation" processes that can make the practical case for social-justice philanthropy.
The application of business principles to the world of civil society and social change has fashion, wealth, power and celebrity behind it. But where is the evidence that "philanthrocapitalism" works, and are there better ways to achieve urgently needed global social progress? It's time to end the hype and start the debate, says Michael Edwards
(This article was first published on 19 March 2008)