The Future of Philanthropy: a New Gospel of Giving?
In “The Gospel of Wealth,” written in 1889 as a manifesto of sorts for the beneficiaries of the first Gilded Age, Andrew Carnegie describes massive inequality as the unavoidable consequence of a free-market system and suggests that philanthropy would ease the pressures created by it.
Perhaps it’s time for a new “Gospel of Wealth.” Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, cites Martin Luther King Jr.’s statement that “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”
The Nation asked a number of leaders in philanthropy for their answers to the following questions: How does a 21st-century philanthropy contend with the economic system that both produces its conditions of possibility and makes its lofty aspirations necessary? Should it address the structural inequality of which it is a symptom—and if so, how?