25 years in philanthropy: Alliance magazine’s 100th issue

We’ve just published the 100th issue of Alliance. It forms the centrepiece of Alliance‘s 25th anniversary year, and I’m naturally proud we’ve reached this milestone while finding new ways to be relevant and inspiring to readers. Working in the non-profit media, that’s not something we take for granted. We think our success – and resilience – is down to hard work, robust editorial judgement, progressive funding and most of all, placing our readers at the heart of global philanthropy.

There are so many outstanding contributions in our special 100 page, 100th issue, that it’s hard to know what to highlight and possibly invidious to single out any one contribution.

But here’s a taste of what you can expect:

  • Results of our readers’ poll of the most impactful foundations and initiatives over the last 25 years
  • Reflections on key trends from philanthro-capitalism to community philanthropy, the movement to shift power, and discussion about trust based philanthropy and core funding
  • Thoughts from veteran practitioners on what they know now as they look back on their career in philanthropy
  • Views from leading philanthropists on what’s needed over the next 25 years for the field to fulfil its potential
  • A mini-series of articles focusing on philanthropy’s contradictions and legitimacy in an era of growing wealth inequality hearing from defenders, critics and reforming voices

We also publish a powerful piece from a dedicated group of 25 year olds – philanthropy practitioners born in 1996 – the same year as Alliance – who share hopes and dreams for the future. 

The issue includes comment from our founding editor and board members of Alliance Publishing Trust, some critique of our editorial direction and a layout of plans for the future growth and development of Alliance. And, finally, the issue ends with a spread thanking funders for the backing and support which has helped make it all possible.

We’ll be holding a celebratory event at the Aga Khan Foundation in London on 16th September. Please do consider registering for the livestream so you can watch from where you are.

I hope you enjoy the anniversary issue in this special year for the Alliance community.

Climate philanthropy before COP26

‘Will we be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them that we did everything we could, when just 2 per cent of philanthropic giving is directed towards mitigating climate change?’

This stark question is posed in the conclusion of a hard-hitting European Foundation Centre (EFC) report on environmental funding published shortly before we went to print.

The urgency of this question reverberates across our latest issue – the fourth devoted to climate change and sustainability in Alliance magazine’s 25-year history.

Many of the themes remain depressingly similar to coverage in the aftermath of the Paris COP five years ago: an inexcusable lack of funding to address climate change head on, a concern that communities at the sharp end of climate change are bearing the brunt of its impacts and fears that foundations are accelerating the climate crisis by continuing to invest their endowments in fossil fuels.

Yet despite this, there are signs that we are on the eve of change as we approach the critical United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

In our own field, funders are signing new commitments to act, leading climate philanthropists such as the Oak Foundation’s vice-chair, Kristian Parker and CIFF founder, Christopher Hohn are contributing significant resources, galvanising peers through bodies such as the Climate Leadership Initiative, Active Philanthropy, ClimateWorks Foundation and the European Climate Foundation, and exerting influence at the highest levels of government. Philanthropy is ‘incredibly influential’ according to the UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion, Nigel Topping, interviewed in this issue.

But the key challenge now is for every sector, including philanthropy, to translate positive aspirations, commitments and targets into significant enough change to stop our planet over-heating.

Will more foundations increase funding to work which directly challenges the status quo? Are we willing to back causes reinventing the way we live and work? Too few foundations are currently pursuing more disruptive solutions. ‘It feels as though the social movements that are opening up political space are running well ahead of philanthropic foundations,’ according to the EFC report. Bridging this gap may be a necessary condition for foundations to play the most impactful role in tackling the climate emergency.

Alliance will provide weekly coverage of developments over this vital decade – all part of our ClimatePhilanthropy 2030 commitment. And this issue guest edited by Felicitas von Peter and Winnie Asiti is a further part of that effort. As Felictas and Winnie note, ‘we are not the first generation to have realised what’s at stake, but the last one to be able to provide a tomorrow that is resilient, just and peaceful. We have much to lose, but a lot more to gain.’

Elsewhere, we talk to prominent Brazilian philanthropist and GIFE president, Neca Setubal about the work of her foundation in tackling social realities on the periphery of Sao Paolo. And we continue our focus on funding practice with a look at how Michael Feigelson led the internal overhaul of the Bernard van Leer Foundation during his tenure as executive director.

We hope you enjoy the issue – and everything still to come in this special 25th anniversary year for the Alliance community.

Charles Keidan is Executive Editor at Alliance magazine.

Law philanthropy – Alliance’s March 2021 issue out now

The first print issue of our 25th anniversary year has just been published.

Obviously, reaching 25 years old in the world of non-profit media is not something we take for granted so I’ve used my editorial to say thank you to readers, friends and supporters for the trust you place in our mission to hold up a mirror to our field.

This issue’s special feature examines the intersection between law and philanthropy. It was guest edited by David Sampson at the UK’s Baring Foundation and Nicolette Naylor at the Ford Foundation in South Africa. They argue that philanthropic engagement with the law is at its most purposeful – and profound – when helping to enlarge the space for communities to seek justice sometimes far away from courts. ‘Courtroom judgements are only part of the solution’ they note in their opening article.

Elsewhere, James Goldston and Martin O’Brien take a retrospective look at 25 years of legal philanthropy reflecting on their work at OSF and Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Mott Foundation discusses its work supporting community based paralegals across Africa.

Given the issues around ‘closing space’, we also explore a critical role for philanthropy in supporting liberal democracy, a pluralistic civil society and the rule of law in Europe and beyond. Many of the tools to fund effectively in this area are familiar: a commitment to the longer term, a willingness to provide core funding and a tolerance for risk.

Outside our special feature, there are articles about child protection philanthropy at Porticus, philanthropic efforts to combat social polarisation in France, and an interview with the recently appointed CEO of the German Association of Foundations.

I hope you enjoy our latest issue.

Stay tuned for our next issue in June focused on climate philanthropy in the run up to the COP26 in Glasgow.

Dr Tedros, Ban Ki-moon and Wellcome Trust headline the new issue of Alliance magazine dedicated to global health philanthropy – out now

We’ve just published Alliance magazine’s new issue dedicated to global health philanthropy.

The centrepiece is an exclusive interview with Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation in conversation with Prof Senait Fisseha, a health expert and director of global programs at the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. In the interview,  Dr Tedros issues a call on philanthropy to stand up for the values of international co-operation, and advocate for increased investment in public health.

At $46 billion each year – almost a quarter of all grantmaking – philanthropy spends more on health-related causes than anything else. As the Covid-19 pandemic has intensified, philanthropy has provided critical funding for vaccine development, medical equipment, mutual aid, social welfare, and global health infrastructure. But there is intense debate about how the largest foundations interact with governments, international bodies and pharmaceutical companies and who holds them to account. This issue of Alliance considers new directions for global health philanthropy and explores whether health funding is going where its most needed, and who gets to decide. The issue has been guest edited by Julia Greenberg, Director, Governance and Financing at the Open Society Foundations Public Health program, and Aggrey Aluso, Manager of Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa’s Health and Rights Program.

Highlights include:

Dr Charlie Weller, Head of Vaccines at the Wellcome Trust who considers philanthropy’s role in the search for a Covid vaccine drawing on lessons from Ebola

Ban Ki-moon Former UN Secretary General and vice chair of The Elders on the role of philanthropy in ensuring fair access to health care and universal health coverage

Children Investment Fund Foundation’s Linda Weisert sets out a new funding agenda for sexual and reproductive health and rights

Lawyer and advocate Steven Allen of the Validity Foundation makes the case for why human rights needs to be at the heart of mental health

The issue also includesprofiles of leading global health funders, an interview with outgoing European Foundation Centre CEO, Gerry Salole, looking back at his career in philanthropy, Regi’s answers to your dilemmas in ‘Philanthropy confidential’ and all our regular columns.

We’re particularly proud of this issue not least as we had to upend our plans to create it. We hope you find it a relevant and meaningful introduction to global health as you navigate your own philanthropic response to the times. 

Investments: philanthropy in the balance

Our new issue on foundation investments was launched on 1 September 2020. The issue is guest edited by Danielle Walker Palmour, director of the Friends Provident Foundation, who brings her wealth of experiences working in the financial and voluntary sector. The issue includes state of the debate discussion of foundation investments across the world with views from China, Colombia, South Africa, Singapore, and Australia among others countries.


The issue includes a candid and controversial dialogue between Danielle and Larry Kramer and Ana Marshall the CEO and CIO of the Hewlett Foundation, one of the world’s leading foundations and climate funders. In the dialogue, Kramer condemns what he sees as ‘virtue signalling’ demands for foundations to divest from fossil fuels, suggests that calls for everyone to spend more now to meet immediate needs are ‘short-sighted’ and argues that impact investing is just ‘nibbling around the edges’, while leaving the prevailing system of neoliberalism intact.

You can read our news story and full interview here. https://www.alliancemagazine.org/blog/frustrated-hewlett-chief-hits-out-at-philanthropy-sector-virtue-signalling/

It’s also the subject of my editorial https://www.alliancemagazine.org/editorial/the-hewlett-way/

The new issue also includes an interview with the European Foundation Centre ‘s new chair, Angel Font, and the launch of what we hope will be an important new column Philanthropy Confidential to safely and anonymously raise challenging issues and dilemmas in our sector. https://www.alliancemagazine.org/letter/philanthropy-confidential/

Social movements and philanthropy

The June 2020 issue of Alliance is out https://www.alliancemagazine.org/magazine/issue/june-2020/

As the social and economic impact of the pandemic becomes clearer, the dramatic events of recent months are likely to generate a new wave of social movements of all shapes and sizes at the cutting edge of social change.

The relationship of social movements to philanthropy is the focus of this long-planned issue. Data from Candid suggests that less than 1 per cent of funding goes to support movements. Here is an area in which institutional philanthropy has been missing in action. Yet this crisis could be the moment when philanthropy first understands and then really gets behind social movements.

This issue of Alliance was originally proposed by South African philanthropy practitioner Halima Mahomed, who noted how social movements were changing the African continent while seemingly passing philanthropy by. Halima is joined as guest editor by Graciela Hopstein in Brazil and Romy Krämer in Spain to give you a global overview of social movement philanthropy.

The issue also contains an interview with the CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Antonio Zappulla.

Indigenous philanthropy

I love the day we release our new issue of Alliance magazine, the crystallisation of intense work with contributors around the world. https://www.alliancemagazine.org/magazine/issue/march-2020/

This one was made possible thanks to our guest editors, the JR Mckenzie Trust’s Manaia King and Ford Foundation’s Monica Aleman as well as Lourdes Inga of the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples. This issue features Indigenous people from across the globe and discusses why they are indispensable allies in tackling the most pressing issues facing people and planet. Other highlights include interviews with Ford president Darren Walker and a candid chat with Center for Effective Philanthropy president, Phil Buchanan.

This and more is all here https://www.alliancemagazine.org/magazine/issue/march-2020/




Feminist philanthropy

Our December 2019 issue on feminist philanthropy is out guest edited by Ise Bosch and Ndana Bofu-Tawamba https://www.alliancemagazine.org/magazine/issue/december-2019/

Ise and Ndana argue that a focus on funding for ‘women and girls’ is not enough. Rather philanthropy needs a feminist consciousness. In one of our more politically charged issues, many contributors highlight the need to question social constructions of gender, challenge political and economic orthodoxies, shift power to the most marginalised, adopt an intersectional approach and place women’s rights and gender equality front and centre. The lead article by Ise and Ndana is here https://www.alliancemagazine.org/feature/philanthropy-is-a-feminist-issue/.

There are also some male perspectives on feminism including my editorial here https://www.alliancemagazine.org/editorial/philanthropy-needs-a-feminist-consciousness/

Elsewhere, we talk to Sandra Breka about a major overhaul at the Robert Bosch Foundation and their new climate programme. And David Bonbright discusses several books which respond in different ways to critiques of our philanthropy sector levelled by Anand Giridharadas.

Human rights philanthropy

Philanthropy rightly receives it fair share of criticism but at $2.8 billion per year, it is playing a critical role in supporting human rights around the world. This is particularly important at the present time as the open, liberal, and democratic societies which human rights help to foster are under sustained attack.

We’ve devoted a whole issue of Alliance to exploring the opportunities and challenges ahead. We talk to the Oak Foundation’s Adrian Arena about building the foundation’s major human rights programme and we discuss the Open Society Foundation’s exile to Berlin with Selmin Caliskan. We also feature views on economic and social rights, and transitional justice, from across the global south and hear about the Ford Foundation’s work in Brazil to prevent digital dis-information. All this and more here https://www.alliancemagazine.org/magazine/issue/september-2019/

Peace philanthropy

Peace-related philanthropy, at less than 1 per cent of all grantmaking, seems irresponsibly small given that armed conflict spoils lives, divides societies and ruins economies. Our latest issue of Alliance goes in search of philanthropy’s role in peaceful development. 

Guest edited by a new generation of philanthropy practitioners, Lauren Bradford (Candid), Rasha Sansur (Dalia Association) and Hope Lyons (Rockefeller Brothers Fund) share their hopes for the future and discuss ways to open up the field to new voices and partners.

The issue also highlights findings from a landmark survey of peace philanthropy. It discusses whether the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals can give new impetus to peace-building, the role of community philanthropy in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Palestine, and the need to re-think existing peace and security paradigms.

Elsewhere, we talk to Lavinia Jacobs, Chair of the Swiss based Jacobs Foundation, about trying to change the status quo in early years education in Switzerland and the Ivory Coast. And our round-up from around the world of philanthropy includes news of significant increases in Chinese giving.