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From a description of various forms of individual giving to the growing importance of community philanthropy and structured, institutional giving, the current report is an effort to bring back the diversity of the field of philanthropy at the center of the debate, by drawing a comprehensive and provocative picture of current trends and challenges of the field. The report also raises some of the questions and issues most critical and central to its development – from technology and shrinking civic space to power dynamics within philanthropy practice and concepts, to the evolving role and form of philanthropy infrastructure.
Through the voices of its some of its most prominent and wise advocates, the field of philanthropy appears in its complexity and multi-faceted reality.
Readers will be able to understand the critical importance of individual giving, especially religious giving in certain parts of the world. They will read about the way technology is impacting philanthropic practices, creating the possibility of new methods of giving such as online giving, giving by SMS and crowdfunding.
While the number of foundations is increasing, especially in Europe and in some countries in the southern hemisphere, most foundations remain very conservative in the area they support, giving to education, healthcare and social services. The report also highlights the characteristics of institutional giving, showing that generally speaking, foundations are more risk-averse than they say they are.
Community foundations are a key part of this landscape: they have become a beacon of philanthropy everywhere, and have adapted to local requirements and circumstances, playing a wide variety of roles, from creating community to offering donor services.
Another interesting finding of the report concerns the relationship between the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Increasingly, a hallmark of organizations working for social good is hybridity, with organizations with different legal forms adopting a variety of means of working. Consequently, notions of what constitutes ‘philanthropy’ and ‘philanthropists’ are broadening.
Infrastructure organizations, their uneven distribution, their increasingly and necessarily changing role and mission, their business model are also discussed, highlighting the basic challenge for infrastructure organizations to demonstrate their value to the sector.
By Muriel Asseraf
This article first appeared on the WINGS website on 30 Jan 2018.