Market-based philanthropy may increase funding but neglects beneficiaries

19 May 2021

Contemporary philanthropists draw from their backgrounds in business to shape their philanthropy, framing development challenges, solutions, and beneficiaries in business and market-based terms.

By framing global development as a 'solvable' scientific problem, these philanthropists view beneficiaries as entrepreneurs rather than victims, and philanthropy as an investment rather than a donation. This framing may bring more funding to development challenges.

However, by prioritising the businesses that stand to profit from the new 'investment' opportunities, philanthropists may exclude the vital voices of beneficiaries. Without listening to and working with beneficiaries, contemporary philanthropists risk addressing assumed, rather than actual, needs. This  wastes resources and reduces impact.

These are the key findings of research by PhD Candidate Steph Haywood, Professor Tobias Jung, and Dr Shona Russell, published in the International Journal of Management Reviews. Their article provides a critical review of the academic literature on 'philanthrocapitalism' – a market-based approach to philanthropy drawing on business strategies and market forces.

The research casts new light on the idea that philanthrocapitalism may be the solution to the perceived ineffectiveness of 'traditional' grant-making philanthropy.

Philanthrocapitalists have considerable influence over both philanthropic practice and public policymaking because of their reputations as wealthy, successful businesspeople. Therefore, their philanthropic efforts and approaches are essential to understand and examine.

Read the full article, 'You've Been Framed': A critical review of academic discourse on philanthrocapitalism.

hand holding US 100 dollar bills which are on fire

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash