What We Talk about when We Talk about Democratizing Philanthropy

Brief

What We Talk about when We Talk about Democratizing Philanthropy

June 20, 2017

Abstract

This essay examines the history of efforts to “democratize” philanthropy in the United States and outlines the range of reformist ambitions to which those efforts have been directed. It calls for more scrutiny of the rhetoric of democratization, since it suggests a number of different relations to social change. It argues that issues of democracy and philanthropy have become especially prominent in contemporary philanthropic discourse, and uses the discussion at Urban Institute’s recent Giving Innovation Summit, as well as a program by one of the Summit’s participants, Global Impact’s Growfund, as an illustration of how such scrutiny can be applied.

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