Much has been made of the philanthropic pursuits of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in the last few years, and the extent of their financial muscle only highlights the disparity between the ‘haves and have-nots.’ The world is mostly living through intensive economic turmoil right now, but this belies the huge amount of money that was generated in many corporate circles in the last decade or so. Essentially, the people that have money, have A LOT of it.
The latitude afforded those who, well, can afford it, has created a new breed of philanthropist – and the days of glum billionaires writing cheques to a children’s hospice seem over. They are much more eager now to see the results and less to assuage their guilt. Today’s philanthropists are getting involved, as if it were a personal business venture, ensuring that they feel the benefits of their actions. A recent Guardian piece interviewed quite a few of these ‘new-era givers,’ and Plum Lomax of New Philanthropy Capital (no, I didn’t make up the name) – a resource for this 21st philanthropist – had this to say: “These people take an informed, planned, precisely targeted and hands-on approach to giving. They care about maximising the impact their money can achieve. Some will invest substantial sums and take considerable risks on innovative ideas. This is strategic philanthropy.”
This new paradigm is the inverse of lazy, horizontal philanthropy and the benefits seem to be much greater for the givers and recipients – it allows successful people to apply their ingenuity as well as resources to problems in the inner city, homelessness, issues in Africa, etc. Some might argue that this is what we pay taxes for – for the betterment of the whole of society? Well, how often do you actually see the benefit of that money? Exactly.