Reinventing Philanthropy (webinar on June 27)

The entire field of philanthropy faces a once-a-century opportunity for fundamental reinvention.

Modern philanthropy was invented roughly a century ago when the magnates of the industrial era put their great sums of wealth into foundations that rationalized and bureaucratized giving. But today major forces are coming together in an extraordinary alignment that could transform the old ways and create a distinctive, and potentially much more effective, form of 21st-century giving.

Katherine Fulton, President of the Monitor Institute (now part of Monitor Deloitte, post Monitor’s recent merger with Deloitte), and a leading authority on the future of Philanthropy, will anchor a roundtable and help fill out this big picture on Thursday, June 27, at 11:00 AM PT. Watch the roundtable online.

The participants will examine the case for such a reinvention based on these five developments coming together at the same time:

  • New Rules: Wealthy people have multiple ways now to apply their money to desired outcomes, whether through traditional philanthropy, political donations, or the emerging field of impact investing. Yet political pressures are building to rework the regulations governing all these areas in fundamental ways.
  • New Resources: Foundations increasingly are being called on to align the core investments of their endowments to their mission through more sophisticated techniques of impact investing. The sums of this capital dwarf the interest that they traditionally use to dole out in their annual giving.
  • New Metrics: New standards are being set for measuring the true impact of giving in increasingly accurate ways. Wealthy patrons who often come from the metric-driven world of business are demanding the same rigor in their charity too.
  • New Technologies: Internet-based technologies have opened up the exclusive club of philanthropy by allowing millions to aggregate small contributions to ultimately compete with the big guys. We’re still in the early days of the innovators like Kickstarter and Kiva – just think out 5 more years.
  • New Data: All these digital technologies are allowing the aggregation of data like never before. It’s now finally getting possible to understand the new contours of the whole field of philanthropy and be able to more skillfully manipulate this new marketplace of giving.

Fulton sketched out early versions of these ideas in a well-known TED talk in 2007 (watch it below). This roundtable will revisit and update those ideas and leverage a terrific group of participants in the roundtable to build on them.

These five major forces clearly are creating a real disruption in the practice of philanthropy, the question is whether they will lead to something better. Unless you understand them—individually and together—you can’t hope to help manage the transition and take advantage of this historic opportunity.

Nikki Powell

Nikki Powell is PEAK Grantmaking's communications and practices director. You can find her on Twitter @nikkiwpowell.