Needed for Philanthropy: Harder Questions, More Debate

The main mission of Inside Philanthropy is to drill into who gives, for what, and why. We want to be useful to you, every day, and in a hands-on way. But IP also exists to help make philanthropy better: More responsive to nonprofits and people in need, and more accountable to society as a whole.

In recent years, many foundations have done more to give transparently, listen to grantees, and assess their effectiveness. Kudos to them. But, overall, efforts at accountability and transparency have lagged behind the growth of the sector’s resources and influence. New questions are also rising about the efficacy of grantmaking models that date back decades, and frustration with funders is rife among nonprofit leaders.

Philanthropy is a great force for good, and we’re super-jazzed about the many cool things funders are doing, as you can tell from reading IP. At the same time, this is a sector that needs to be pushed—in constructive ways—to change and do better. 

On Sunday, I laid out four ideas for reforming philanthropy in a New York Times op-ed that you can read below. This follows a number of pieces on how to change philanthropy that have appeared in IP, which you can also find below. Few of these ideas for reform are new, nor do we pretend to have all the answers. But as the footprint of philanthropy rises in U.S. society, this is a moment to be asking hard questions. As well, it's a good time to be looking at funders who are doing things differently, and better. 

The more dialogue and debate around these issues, the better, so please chime in. IP is always open to guests posts and you can comment on any article.