Philanthrocapitalism Gets Sexy

Participated in a panel discussion of philanthrocapitalism today at the Global Creative Leadership Summit.

There was a lively debate, led by David Fenton, who advises non-profits on communications and PR, and Stephen Heintz of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, about whether the philanthrocapitalism revolution is good news for non-profits. Some people see philanthrocapitalism as a threat, fearing arrogant bullying of community organisations by the wealthy, others see it as an opportunity to shake up sleepy, unprofessional charities. Our view is that it is probably good for the sector, bringing new money, new skills, different funding strategies and so on. That in turn will create a greater focus on performance which will be good for some but not all nonprofits.

Amir Dossal of the UN Office for Partnerships, which was created in response to Ted Turner’s billion-dollar gift a decade ago to support the UN, and Philippe Douste-Blazy, who runs UNITAID (which is trying to raise financing for the Millennium Development Goals through innovative voluntary mechanisms) highlighted the way that the UN has embraced working with private donors, large and small. In doing so, a huge, important organisation that used to depend entirely on financing from governments has been given freedom to work in new and innovative ways.

Our host Louise Blouin MacBain talked about the motivation for philanthropy – reminding us that giving stimulates the same pleasure centre in the brain as sexual intercourse (the mesolimbic pathway). Perhaps, as Allan Hassenfeld, chairman of the Hasbro toy company and active corporate philanthropist, suggested, we should have called our book “Sex and philanthropy”. Or maybe we should write a sequel, “‘Philanthroeroticism”?