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Ben Soskis: The Current & Future State of US Philanthropy

In this episode Rhod talks to Ben Soskis, a Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy and co-Editor of the website, about the big issues and themes in US philanthropy over the last few years and where things might go in the future. Including:

  • How has the pandemic shifted perceptions of philanthropy in the US over the short term? Are those perceptions likely to get better or worse over the longer-term, post pandemic?
  • Mackenzie Scott: What are the most interesting/encouraging things about her emergence as a major philanthropist? What are the main questions that still need answering? Has she had an impact on the general public perception of philanthropy?
  • Elon Musk: Is he the world's first "Troll Philanthropist"? What does his emergence as a major giver mean for the norms of philanthropic discourse? 
  • Bill Gates: Has any of the controversy over the Gates Foundation’s involvement in vaccine development had an effect on the overall narrative about philanthropy in the US?
  • Have the norms around time horizons in philanthropy shifted as a result of the pandemic? i.e. will we see more calls for foundations to spend down their endowments?
  • Why are a growing number of elite donors/institutional funders interested in supporting the growth of everyday giving? What opportunities (and potential challenges) does the involvement of big money philanthropy in developing cultures of mass giving present?
  • Why are we seeing more emphasis on direct cash giving in recent years? Is the growth primarily driven by individual P2P giving, or by organisations employing direct giving models? If the latter, is this primarily driven by a desire to democratise/shift power or by a belief that it delivers better results in terms of outcomes?

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Learn from our past to better understand our future.

Philanthropy has a long and varied history. We’ve created bite-size chapters that you can jump in and out of to better understand philanthropy.