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Spring 2011: Philanthropy: Impact over intentions

From the Editor

In global philanthropy today we are seeing the emergence of a generation of philanthropists who value impact and effectiveness over intentions. These philanthropists are beginning to demand rigorous evidence bases to underpin their investment allocation decisions. And in doing so, they confront the problem of the gap between the theory of social impact measurement and the enormous practical difficulties in measuring social value in the real world setting. In this edition of Knowledge Connect, we examine the principal global forces guiding these changes in emphasis and link them to local Australian expressions.

This is a fast-moving field. Knowledge is being created in many places outside the traditional university setting. Foundations and philanthropists themselves, the consultants who advise them and the wealth management industry are all contributors to the knowledge base, often in dialogue with academic partners. Dissemination of this new understanding seems to be proliferating amongst philanthropists, but in Australia this is happening less among the not-for-profits and social enterprises that they fund. We hope that this edition will provide a taste and an overview of the big themes and trends, global and national, in the field of philanthropy so that not-for-profits (NFPs) and others in the community sector can locate their own practice in this new world of expectations.

‘Impact over intentions’ summarises the attitude of philanthropists described in the book ‘Philanthrocapitalism’. Under this theme we also review Four Revolutions in Global Philanthropy which identifies four key developments in the transformation of the market for social good creation.

While there is a long way to go, we also showcase Giving Well, a website that rigorously analyses charities and compares their capacity to save and change lives. These are but tentative steps toward robust comparison. This edition also reviews A Transformational Role – Donor and Charity Perspectives on Major Giving in Australia which gives voice to the perceptions and concerns of both philanthropists and fundraisers. Why do people give money? A review of over 500 scholarly articles distills reasons for giving to a set of eight explanations.  We also explore the policy levers being used to encourage broad-based giving using the recently released UK Giving White Paper. Finally, we examine the globalisation of wealth and review the latest World-wealth-report-2011 for insights on trends of where the wealth is and the implications of the changing distribution of wealth for global philanthropy.

Elena Douglas and Paul Flatau, CSI (UWA)

Guest Editors, Knowledge Connect

One Response to Spring 2011: Philanthropy: Impact over intentions

  1. Pingback: Knowledge Connect | Spring 2012: Why does philanthropy matter?

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