From Stanford Social Innovation Revue the complexity of Social philanthropy is brought into the spotlight, the exasperation felt by those who believe we can influence how the world works by massive action from the  “bottom-up”, contrasted with the views of social philanthropist views of fixing the world with the very thinking that caused the problem – is there a middle way?  Kavita Ramdas thinks there is – but is maybe too deeply engaged it the “blame game” while the counterpoint by Matthew Bishop & Michael Green is maybe too optimistic about the intent of a few exemplary individuals – will the results match the intentions – only time will tell if their actions can change the apparent lethargy and inertia of the majority.

Kavita Ramdas: “Social change philanthropy, in contrast to traditional charity, must be measured by its capacity to question the dominant development model, to seek the root causes of inequality, and to engage in a process of self-reflection that also seeks to expand its accountability to the broader public that it seeks to serve. Only then, can private or public philanthropy realize its potential as a genuine catalyst for transformative social change. In my experience, while there certainly are foundations and individual donors who are willing to engage in a more self-critical analysis and open themselves to greater public scrutiny, the dominant form of global philanthrocapitalism is too deeply embedded in the current economic and political status quo of global capitalism to make investments that might really rock the boat. At the same time, much to my relief, citizen-led social justice movements around the globe, many funded by social change philanthropies, are emerging to challenge the substance, form, and direction of philanthrocapitalism as well as the current, largely unequal systems of trade and global capitalism. The Occupy Wall Street protests and encampments are examples of growing discomfort with the model even here in the United States, in what author Arundhati Roy calls, the heart of empire

While Bishop and green argue: ”
The world is certainly in one hell of a mess at the moment and no one has a master plan to fix it. Certainly not Kavita Ramdas, who confuses symptoms and causes, based on a model of the world that is fundamentally out of date. We need to get beyond this type of blame-game rhetoric to try to figure out solutions to the world’s problems. Philanthrocapitalists are playing a vital role in this process and could do even more.
Philanthrocapitalism is a powerful force shaping our world. It touches on big issues, such as the accountability and responsibilities of the rich. We wrote Philanthrocapitalism because we believe that the change in the world that the book describes raises important issues about the effectiveness and legitimacy of what the rich are doing, which need to be debated. But that debate must be based on real issues, not tired old dichotomies. ”

Read the full article and responses here:  the merits of philanthrocapitalism

Kavita N. Ramdas is executive director of Ripples to Waves, the Program on Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law (CDDRL) at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. From 1996 to 2010 she served as president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, where she currently serves as a senior advisor.


Matthew Bishop is the US business editor and New York bureau chief ofThe Economist.


Michael Green is an economist and writer, and formerly a senior official in the British government.

Bishop and Green are the co-authors ofPhilanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World and The Road From Ruin: How to Revive Capitalism and Put America Back on Top.

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