Does philanthropy have too much influence?

The autumn edition of Alliance magazine is out.

Philanthropy’s capacity to influence society has arguably never been greater or more sought after. Governments see in philanthropy a flexible source of capital and expertise and opportunities for public-private partnership. Philanthropy sees in government the opportunity to shape public policy, bring ideas to scale and seek recognition for its partners and, in some cases, for itself. Meanwhile, civil society relies on philanthropic funding to give it the freedom to challenge orthodoxy. Businesses, rhetorically at least, seek to position themselves as philanthropic and attuned to the needs of communities.

This issue of Alliance looks at the rise of philanthropic influence. In recent years, foundations have used their resources to effect change on diverse issues, some of which we spotlight. This is a cause for satisfaction to those who see philanthropic impact as a holy grail (and to those who are sympathetic to the changes achieved). Moreover, to guest editors Ingrid Srinath and Bhekinkosi Moyo in India and South Africa, philanthropy is an underused commodity. They paint a picture of hopes that far more wealthy citizens will not only contribute their wealth but do so in a way that shares power with beneficiaries and civil society.

But should countries with emerging philanthropic capacity be careful what they wish for?



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